Ari Roth Leaves D.C.'s Theater J After Tensions Over Plays Dealing With Israel

Roth and the theater drew controversy in recent years over plays dealing with Israel's founding that treated issues including allegations of massacres of Palestinians and their displacement.

Ari Roth, the longtime director at Theater J, is leaving the theater after a period of tension over plays dealing with Israel’s history.

The Washington Post and the Washington Jewish Week each reported late Thursday that Roth is saying the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center, which oversees the theater, fired him after he refused to leave under terms that would have made it appear he left amicably and the decision was mutual.

Roth and the theater drew controversy in recent years over plays dealing with Israel’s founding that treated issues including allegations of massacres of Palestinians and their displacement.

Roth told the Post that the specific reason of his firing was his refusal to adhere to a “communications protocol” over the JCC’s recent decision to cancel an annual “Voices from a Changing Middle East” plays festival.

Theater J in an email to JTA late Thursday depicted the parting as amicable.

“Ari Roth has had an incredible 18-year tenure leading Theater J, and we know there will be great opportunities ahead for him,” the release quoted the JCC CEO, Carole Zawatsky, as saying.

Theater J under Roth earned critical acclaim and a national reputation for workshopping works that went on to garner widespread attention.

According to the Post, Roth plans to start a new theater company, Mosaic, that will launch next fall.