The leaders of more than 60 theater groups across the United States issued an open letter Monday denouncing the Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Center for firing Ari Roth, longtime artistic director of its Theater J, The Washington Post reports. Among the signatories were the heads of some of the country's most prominent nonprofit theaters, including New York's Lincoln Center Theater and Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington.
Mr. Roth told the Post Thursday that he had been dismissed after 18 years leading Theater J, ostensibly for insubordination for speaking to news media without the organization's permission. His supporters tie his ouster to clashes with Jewish Community Center officials over his programming of plays dealing with controversial aspects of Israeli history. In their letter, theater leaders said they were "outraged" by his termination for what they called "blatantly political reasons."