The Birth and Growth of a Theatre
Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) was born in July 1994, shortly after Producing Artistic Director Barbara Brooks gave birth to her son. As she nurtured him through 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 friendsJew and non-Jew alikewould 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 U. of M. 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 other’s 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.
Audiences have grown steadily through the years, divided almost equally between Jews and non-Jews. Financial support has come from hundreds of individuals and prestigious institutional sources. Groups have attended from community organizations, public and private schools, synagogues, and churches, and recognition on both a local and national level continues to grow. The belief that Barbara and her colleagues harbored about the need for a theater focused on Jewish culture has so far proven splendidly true!
Shows are most often presented in the intimate, 149-seat Hillcrest Center Theater at 1978 Ford Parkway in the Highland area of St. Paul. With all seats close to the action, the consistently acclaimed work mesmerizes the youngest child through the oldest adult. Sometimes performances are presented at other venues to make our work accessible to as many patrons as possible. Three initiatives illustrate MJTC’s concern for its audiences.
... is MJTC’s ongoing program of forums, lectures, symposia, and communications designed to open the doors to greater understanding and enjoyment of the plays we present and to deeper insights into the subjects and issues they address.
… is MJTC’s initiative to discover and develop a continuous flow of new plays rooted in the Jewish experience but illuminating the common humanity among us all. The Magic Dreidels and Hanukkah Lights in the Big Sky were both commissioned by and received their world premieres at MJTC. The Magic Dreidels has been performed regionally by other theaters in the country. Other plays developed through Wellsprings and that received their world premiere are Lovers and Traitors: The Killing of the Rosenbergs and Shadow of the Valley.
Ticket Subsidy Program
Since 2002, MJTC has been welcoming classrooms of schoolchildren to our theater even though full ticket price could not be paid. Over the years, more and more teachers have requested discounted tickets, and we have allowed them to attend MJTC performances without paying full ticket price. Unfortunately, as the number of students requiring discounted tickets has increased, the resultant lost income for programming has started to have a negative impact on our organization. Currently, 80% of school children who attend a performance at MJTC do so through our ticket subsidy program. Won't you please consider a contribution to our new Ticket Subsidy Program Fund? Your contribution will enable classrooms of diverse students to attend a performance who otherwise might not have the opportunity to do so. Our goal is to insure that all children may experience, learn from, and enjoy the cultural and professional theater experience of the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. Visit our Ticket Subsidy Program Fund project page on GiveMN.org.