USA: 60 artistic directors protest firing of theatre director

According to reports in the Washington Post, the artistic director of Theater J, Ari Roth, was fired with the stated cause being “insubordination.”

60 national theater companies protested the firing in an open letter with playwright Tony Kushner writing that Roth “was fired because he refused to surrender to censorship.” In building Theater J’s reputation as an outstanding theater, Roth was often the flashpoint for controversy, especially when dealing with plays that focused on Israel’s political history.

One such play was “Return to Haifa,” a play by Israeli playwright Boaz Gaon focusing on the plight a Palestinian family which returned to their old home in Haifa abandoned in the wake of the 1948 War for Independence. The play was performed by the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, a company composed of Israeli and Palestinian actors. At an opening night production in 2011, some older members of the audience complained vocally about the play and its sympathetic treatment of the Palestinian characters.

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