Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) was born in July 1994, shortly after Founder and Producing Artistic Director Barbara Brooks gave birth to her son. Through his infancy, she thought about her identity and how she could continue her Jewish heritage into the next generation. Beyond that, she wondered how her son and his future friends — Jew and non-Jew alike — would learn to share and find richness in each other’s diversity.
A native New Yorker, Barbara came to Minnesota to pursue a graduate degree in music therapy at the University of Minnesota after receiving a B.A. in Music from Vassar College. Schooling was followed by appearances in musicals and plays in the east and Midwest, and teaching in the St. Paul Public Schools. As she got to know the Twin Cities, she sensed that there were fewer opportunities here for people of every heritage to learn about each others' culture than there were in New York, and that many Jewish people felt as disengaged from their roots as she did. Barbara decided that if other major cities had theaters devoted to Jewish culture, Minnesota should have one, too. She gathered together a diverse group of like-minded community leaders and formed the non-profit, professional MJTC.
Since 1995, MJTC has produced over 50 plays and musicals. These have included 3 commissions and 6 world premieres. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company work has garnered 4 IVEY Awards, and MJTC is the recipient of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Arts Achievement Award (2010).
Audiences have grown steadily through the years, regularly coming from the Twin Cities, surrounding suburbs, all areas of Minnesota, throughout Wisconsin, and other states from coast to coast. The Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company audience is as diverse as our world today. MJTC’s theater home is the 143-seat Highland Park Community Center Theater where the intimate space enables a special connection between the audience and artist, and our consistently acclaimed work mesmerizes the youngest child through the oldest adult.
Financial support has come from hundreds of individuals and prestigious institutional sources. Groups have attended from community organizations, public and private schools, and synagogues and churches. Recognition on both a local and national level continues to grow.