1440470056CrossingJerusalem.jpgThe National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), joined by dozens of artists, dramatists and theater advocates, released a statement criticizing the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center (JCC)'s decision to cancel a production of Julia Pascal's Crossing Jerusalem midway through its run, after complaints that it was "inappropriate and troublesome."

Crossing Jerusalem opened on February 10 at the center's Cultural Arts Theater (J-CAT) in North Miami Beach, Florida. The play is a family drama set in Jerusalem during the 2002 intifada. Understanding the work's potentially controversial nature, the theater set up "talk back" discussions after the performances. But critics of the play, which claimed it presented a "false paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict," pressed for the show to be canceled. On February 16, JCC President & CEO Gary Bomzer canceled the remaining performances, explaining that this was in order to "avoid any further pain and to engage in rigorous, vibrant conversation."

The NCAC statement calls the decision a betrayal of free expression that undermines the Center's commitment to "rigorous, vibrant conversation." The group urges the JCC to re-schedule the performances.

"Work set in a context of political tension is often controversial, but that shouldn't mean that such work should be avoided. On the contrary, it is precisely this kind of work, which generates some of the most needed and relevant conversations within a community," said Svetlana Mintcheva, NCAC's director of programs. "The JCC is betraying its very mission by succumbing to censorious demands and stifling open debate."

The statement was endorsed by the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund and the Arts Integrity Initiative, along with prominent artistic directors like Ari Roth (Founding Artistic Director of Washington DC's Mosaic Theater Company) and a number of playwrights—including Joshua Ford, Larry Kunofsky, Christine Evans, Karen Zacarias, Motti Lerner and Wendy Graf.

The full statement appears below (click here for full-screen view). Those who wish to add their formal endorsement can do so by emailing ncac@ncac.org .

The full list of endorsers is as follows: 

David Ben-Arie, actor, composer, playwright, sound designer (Sound designer for Crossing Jerusalem)

Sara Brookner, Association for Jewish Theatre member-at-large and dramaturg

Christopher Buchanan, independent NYC [laywright

David Y. Chack, Producing Artistic Director of ShPIeL-Performing Identity Chicago and Professor at the Theatre School at DePaul University

Stacie Chaiken, writer-performer-educator, Los Angeles

Elaine Clayton, artist and author, Westport, CT

Carl C. Cole, Commissioner Emeritus, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities

David Copelin, playwright / dramaturg / Dramatists Guild member

Cynthia DeShola Coleman, activist and CEO of the Timothy Dawkins-El Project

Edward Einhorn, Artistic Director, Untitled Theater Company No. 61

Gordon Edelstein, Artistic Director, Long Wharf Theatre

Henrik Eger, Ph.D., editor, www.DramaAroundTheGlobe.com

Christine Evans, playwright and Assistant Professor, Georgetown University

Chris Finan, American Booksellers for Free Expression

Rebecca Joy Fletcher, playwright, performer, cantor and Jewish educator (Chicago)

David A. Goldenberg, documentary filmmaker, Rhode Island

David Ira Goldstein, Artistic Director, Arizona Theatre Company

Wendy Graf, playwright/DGA member

Anna Hayman, Managing Director, CultureHub

Michelle Hensley, Artistic Director, Ten Thousand Things Theater, Minneapolis, MN

Jamil Khoury, Founding Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising, Chicago

Larry Kunofsky, playwright

Joshua Ford, playwright, Dramatist Guild, Association for Jewish Theatre member

Mira Hirsch, Past President, Association for Jewish Theatre

Motti Lerner, playwright

Jennifer Mendenhall, former artist in residence, Theatre J, DCJCC, actor

Lisa Mount, consultant, perform, producer, Georgia

Adrienne Nelson, actor/dialect coach/teaching artist, Washington, DC

Jenny Paul, actor/producer, producer of "Crossing Jerusalem" North American Premiere

Sinai Peter, Visiting Professor, American University, Independent Director, Haifa Israel; former Artistic Director, Haifa Municipal Theatre, Israel

Gail Prensky, Executive Director, The Jüdische Kulturbund Project

Tom Prewitt, Artistic and Executive Director, WSC Avant Bard

Ari Roth, Founding Artistic Director, Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Linnea Sage, actor in the original U.S. premiere of Crossing Jerusalem

Aaron Mack Schloff, DG member

James Sherman, playwright/DGA member

C Denby Swanson, playwright

David Winitsky, Artistic Director, Jewish Plays Project

Laura Zam, independent playwright/performer, Washington, DC

Karen Zacarias, playwright, Dramatist Guild member, Washington, DC

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