Controversial Play The Admission Plays Commercial Engagement in Washington, D.C., Beginning April 30

By Carey Purcell
30 Apr 2014

Motti Lerner
Motti Lerner

Following its workshop presentation at Theater J in Washington, D.C., Motti Lerner's play The Admission is presented in a three-week commercial engagement beginning April 30.

Produced by Andy Shallal, performances continue through May 18 in the Studio Theatre's Mead Theatre. The production features the majority of the cast from Theater J's workshop, including Michael Tolaydo and Danny Gavigan.

The production, which is renting the performance space, is not produced by the non-profit Studio Theatre. The cast features  Leila Buck, Hanna Eady,Danny Gavigan, Elizabeth Ann Jernigan, Kimberly Schraf, Michael Tolaydo and Joel Reuben Ganz. 

Lerner's play was scheduled to receive its world-premiere production at Theater J as part of the Voices From A Changing Middle East Festival, part of the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center's Embracing Democracy series. The production sparked a response from the ad-hoc group Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art, which raised objections to the play, criticizing its portrayal of Israel's behavior during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. COPMA staged a campaign to cancel the production, referring to assertions in the play as "blood libel" and has asked that donors to the Jewish Federation withhold contributions as long as the drama is being presented by the DCJCC, of which Theater J has a program. Leaders of the Dramatists Guild of America, including Stephen Schwartz and John Weidman, spoke out in support of the production. 



In a response to the objections voiced by COPMA, Theater J reduced the run of The Admission, downgrading it from a 34-performance run to a workshop presentation of 16 performances, featuring a talk back after each performance.

Here's how The Admission is described by Theater J: "An Israeli homage to All My Sons set in Haifa during the first Intifada. Giora is a young professor engaged to Neta but in love with Samia, the Palestinian daughter of a family friend who becomes troubled when Giora's father's company begins building on the site of a battle that took place 40 years ago. Giora struggles to find the truth about his father's war-time secrets, confronting the causes of his brother's death and how Giora came to incur his own war-time injuries in Lebanon. As Giora's family presses him to look forward, not back, the play asks how we can move forward toward peace while still wrestling with the ghosts of war."

Read Playbill.com's interview with Ari Roth, artistic director of Theater J, and Ralph Sevush, executive director of business and legal affairs and board member and officer of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund.

Shallal and Roth previously told the Washington Post that audience response to the workshop run of The Admission was so strong that Roth contacted Shallal about producing an extension.

"It speaks to a topic that Arabs and Jews tend not to want to touch," Shallal, who had long been a member of Theater J's advisory council, told the Post. "This is a play that brings the narrative together and that forces you to look at the other side. It needs to be exposed to more audiences, because it really helps to bring about some really solid dialogue."

Studio Theatre's Mead Theatre is located at 1501 14th Street NW. Visit theadmission.bpt.me for tickets and more information.