On Jan. 28, Jojo Ruf became the new managing director of Theater J, the nation’s pre-eminent professional Jewish theater. Ruf joined Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr in the leadership of the theater, which is a program of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC). Ruf came to Theater J from The Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics (The Lab) at Georgetown University, where she has been serving as managing director since 2015. She is a nationally recognized field leader with particular expertise in international collaborations and new play development.
Theater J, a program of the Edlavitch DCJCC, is a nationally renowned, professional theater that celebrates, explores, and struggles with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. The theater’s work illuminates and examines ethical questions of our time, inter-cultural experiences that parallel our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the nation’s largest and most prominent Jewish theater, Theater J aims to preserve and expand a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theater-going experiences.
“Jojo is a perfect fit for Theater J,” said Immerwahr. “She has an extraordinary depth of experience as a leader, and her expertise in international collaboration, fiscal management, and strategic planning will help take Theater J to the next level as we prepare for our most ambitious seasons yet. Theater J is honored to have attracted a candidate of this caliber, and I am personally thrilled to have such a brilliant colleague as a partner. With Jojo in this position, we know Theater J will continue to reach an ever-growing audience with soul-stirring and thought-provoking art.”
Ruf has worked with The Lab at Georgetown University since it was founded in 2012, becoming managing director in 2015. During her time there she managed and produced 16 workshop or full-scale productions and hosted numerous convenings and symposia, as well as eight residencies.
Carole Zawatsky, executive director of the EDCJCC, said, “We are so fortunate to have Jojo Ruf joining the EDCJCC as the managing director of Theater J. Her intellect, passion, and dynamism are infectious! I know that the team of Immerwahr/Ruf will lead Theater J to even greater heights.”
Prior to The Lab, Ruf served for five years as the general manager and associate executive director for the National New Play Network, an alliance of nonprofit theaters across the country that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays. She was the founding executive and creative director of The Welders, a Helen Hayes Award-winning playwrights’ collective in Washington, D.C., and was coordinating producer for the 2015 Women’s Voices Theater Festival, hailed by The Washington Post as, “one of the more audacious and ambitious responses by an American city to the gender gap in high-profile jobs in the arts.”
“I have long admired Theater J,” said Ruf, “and have been particularly inspired watching Adam hone Theater J’s mission over the past three years and carve out its vital space in the DC theater landscape. I am thrilled to partner with Adam in leading the theater, and to join the remarkable Edlavitch DCJCC team and the hard-working Theater J staff. Theater J is not only a home for artistically rigorous programming, but is also the largest and most prominent Jewish theater in the United States, and I look forward to utilizing my national and international theater experience as Theater J continues its growth.”
Ruf’s impressive and valuable national and international perspective that she brought to Theater J comes from having overseen partnerships between The Lab and 65 theaters, embassies, and cultural institutions, including presentations of work from more than 30 countries. Most recently, her work has taken her to Cuba, China, Chile, Israel, Poland, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and throughout the U.K., among other places. Her arrival at Theater J coincided with Immerwahr’s new initiative to deepen relationships with international theaters in the hopes of bringing Jewish plays from around the world to DC.
Now in her third year of serving on theatreWashington’s Advisory Board, Ruf is the co-chair of the annual theatreWashington Summit. “Jojo brings a joyful exuberance for the power of theatre and an agile business mind,” said Amy Austin, president of theatreWashington, “she has an extraordinary talent for creating a shared vision coupled with high-energy organizational planning. She can light the road ahead and build it.”
Ruf graduated from Georgetown University with a dual degree in English and theater and performance studies and will graduate from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business with an MBA in the spring.
By Kol HaBirah Staffar