Announcing the Launch of New Jerusalem

Contact:     Katharine Kline
                   Communications Manager

September 22, 2014

 MJTC’s 20th Anniversary Season

Announcing the launch of its fall production:


By David Ives

Directed by Kurt Schweickhardt

“Fierce, funny, and up-to-the-minute in its moral investigations.”

                                     -The Washington Post

St. Paul, MN -- Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) launches its fall season with New Jerusalem, The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656. This production runs from October 18 - November 9, 2014 at the Hillcrest Center Theater, 1978 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN 55116. Tickets range in price from $19 - $28. Student and group discounts are available. To order, call (651)647-4315 or visit

New Jerusalem, The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656 is a timely and riveting exploration of identity, morality, community, and theology. In the 1600‘s, Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal fled to Amsterdam to escape the mass conversions, public burnings, and killings of the Catholic Inquisition. In exchange for safe haven, they agreed to police their own community for unorthodox beliefs. So when Spinoza, heir apparent to the chief Rabbi, is accused of atheism, he is summoned to the synagogue to defend himself. The ensuing trial is rich with philosophical and political investigations that echo strongly today.

Creative Team:

David Ives (Playwright) is perhaps best known for his evening of one-act plays, All In The Timing and for his drama Venus In Fur, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. His other plays include The School For Lies (adapted from Molière’s The Misanthrope); The Liar (adapted from Corneille); Time Flies; and Is He Dead? (adapted from Mark Twain.) He has also translated Feydeau’s A Flea In Her Ear and Yasmina Reza’s A Spanish Play. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting and a graduate of The Yale School of Drama.

Kurt Schweickhardt (Director) returns to MJTC for his 7th production. Previous productions include A Strange and Separate People, The 75th, The Value of Names, and Old Wicked Songs. Kurt has also performed at MJTC in The Shadow of the Valley.

Alex Brightwell (Simon De Vries) has previously appeared at MJTC in Photograph 51 and The History of Invulnerability. His other credits include Walking Shadow Theater Company and Theatre in the Round. He is a graduate of the U of MN / Guthrie Theater B.F. A. actor training program.

George Muellner (Saul Levi Mortera) has previously appeared at MJTC in Our Class, Chaim’s Love Song, and Parade. His other credits include Park Square Theatre, Nautilus Music Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, History Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center, and MN Fringe Festival.

Skyler Nowinski (Gasper Rodrigues Ben Israel) has previously appeared at MJTC in The Magic Dreidels, Hanukkah Lights in the Big Sky, and The Last Word. His other credits include Mixed Blood Theatre, Walking Shadow, Workhaus Collective, and the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of the U of MN / Guthrie Theater B.F. A. actor training program.

Briana Patnode (Clara Van Den Eden) makes her MJTC debut. Her credits include Theatre Coup d’Etat, Public Theater of Minnesota, and CLIMB Theater Company.

James Ramlet (Abraham Van Valkenburgh) makes his MJTC debut. His credits include the Guthrie Theater, Frank Theatre, History Theatre, and Children’s Theatre Company.

Michael Hugh Torsch (Baruch De Spinoza) makes his MJTC debut. His credits include Normandale Theater, Agile Rabbit Theatre Company, and Theatre Corrobora.

Rachel Weber (Rebecca De Spinoza) makes her MJTC debut. Credits include Children’s Theatre Company, Bloomington Civic Theatre, Park Square Theatre, and Theatre in the Round.

The creative team also includes Theresa Akers (Scenic Design), Annie Cady (Costume Design), Paul Epton (Lighting Design), C. Andrew Mayer (Sound Design), and Kelli Tucker (Stage Manager).

Related Programs:

MJTC’s Doorways Programs provide deeper insights into the subjects and issues addressed in its productions. For New Jerusalem, these include:

Symposium on Baruch de SpinozaJoin us after the matinee performance on Sunday, October 19th for a presentation by Geoffrey Gorham, Philosophy Department Chair, Macalester College. 

Continuing Legal Education Program Judges and lawyers will discuss the themes that run throughout the play and apply to the legal system today. Following the matinee performance on Sunday, October 26.       (1 CLE credit applied for.) Sponsored by Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. 

Meet the Director & Cast Join us after the performance on Thursday, October 23rd  for a discussion with the director and cast of the show. Gain further insights into the play and how the director and actors approach their work.

Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) is a non-profit organization currently celebrating its 20th season. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company ignites the hearts and minds of people of all cultural backgrounds by producing theater of the highest artistic standards. Rooted in Jewish content, our work explores differences, illuminates commonalities, and fosters greater understanding among all people. For further information about MJTC and its 20th anniversary season, visit, email, or call (651)647-4315.

Individual Producers Linda and Mike Platt

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.     

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