Roth said that Carole R. Zawatsky, chief executive officer of the DC Jewish Community Center, of which Theater J is an arm, delivered notice of his dismissal and that the given cause was insubordination.
The DCJCC released a statement quoting Zawatsky Dec. 18 that read: "Ari Roth has had an incredible 18-year tenure leading Theater J, and we know there will be great opportunities ahead for him. Ari leaves us with a vibrant theater that will continue to thrive."
"They’ve crafted a letter that’s saying I’m resigning, not fired," Roth told the Post, adding, "I was terminated abruptly." He said he refused to sign a severance agreement and that he had been discussing "an elegant transition" that would result in him departing Theater J in a few months.
The Post reports that an e-mail from Zawatsky to members of Theater J’s advisory board said that Roth "will be stepping down as artistic director of Theater J" and saying that his stewardship had led the company to "become the premier Jewish theater in the country."
In her e-mail, Zawatsky wrote, "While a search is underway for a new artistic director, Theater J will continue operating" under managing director Rebecca Ende and associate artistic director Shirley Serotsky. The Post reports that Roth and Zawatsky frequently disagreed on Roth's programming choices, with the most recent being over the the fate of Theater J’s Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. In November, the Jewish Daily Forward reported that the DCJCC was removing parts of the festival; Roth told the Post that his comments to the media following that article were used as an example of his insubordination.
Roth told the Post he has plans to create a new group that will be called the Mosaic Theater Company. Based at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, the company will start in fall 2015, featuring The Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival in its lineup.