Bad Jews


Dear Theatregoer,

If you had told me ten years ago that Roundabout would be at the forefront of producing new American plays, I never would have believed you. I started our Roundabout Underground program back in 2007 because I saw a need to support playwrights early on, giving them a space to launch their careers. What I didn’t realize at the time was how incredible it would be to watch these young artists blossom into some of the most outstanding writers working in the theatre today.

Last season, we had the remarkable experience of taking on The Humans, our third collaboration with Stephen Karam, whose debut play Speech & Debate opened the Underground. Not only was The Humans met with an incredible response in our own Laura Pels Theatre, but it then transferred to Broadway, becoming a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winning the Tony Award® for Best Play. I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to witness the impact Stephen is having on the American theatre after debuting at Roundabout.

The company of THE HUMANS

The company of THE HUMANS

And Stephen isn’t alone in his success. Joshua Harmon, who you first met here with Bad Jews, will make his Broadway debut this spring with the transfer of Significant Other, another play first seen at the Pels.

I’m so proud that, in supporting young voices that we believe in, Roundabout is able to bring you such incredible new work. In 2017, we will continue this commitment with two more plays. In the winter, you can see Steven Levenson’s bold family drama If I Forget. Steven is currently making his Broadway debut as a writer of the acclaimed new musical Dear Evan Hansen. In the spring, join us for the world premiere of Napoli, Brooklyn, Meghan Kennedy’s moving and vibrant tale of an Italian family in 1960s New York.

Like Stephen and Josh before them, both Meghan and Steve made their debuts with Roundabout Underground, and I am thrilled to continue showcasing their work. Don’t miss out on seeing the next great plays to hit New York before anyone else.


Todd Haimes

Artistic Director/CEO

Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Bad Jews, If I Forget, Napoli Brooklyn, The Humans

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Bad Jews closes Off Broadway

Posted on: January 3rd, 2014 by Roundabout


After a sold out run at Roundabout Underground’s Black Box Theatre, Joshua Harmon’s hit comedy Bad Jews moved upstairs to the Laura Pels Theatre for our 2013-2014 Season. This production played a total of 100 performances from first preview on September 19 through the extended closing date of December 29. Original cast members Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger, Molly Ranson and Michael Zegen came back to our stage under the direction of Daniel Aukin.


Production image featuring Philip Ettinger, Molly Ranson, Tracee Chimo and Michael Zegen. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Bad Jews was named “the best comedy of the season” by The New York Times and  received rave reviews from The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, New York Post and Time Out New York. Audience members also raved about this riotous and poignant play; one couple said “we loved it for its humor, honesty and killer dialogue,” and another supporter told us it was “extraordinary–funny, sad and dynamic.”

Throughout the show’s run we asked audience members which character’s point of view they most identified with and why. We installed a display in the Bruce Mitchell Lobby inviting audience members to write a comment on a speech bubble and place it in support of "Team Daphna", "Team Liam", or "On the Fence" between the two.


Installation in the Bruce Mitchell Lobby.

After one month of performances the tally was  On the Fence – 39; Team Daphna – 30; Team Liam – 15 and after the show’s run our audiences were split between Daphna and On the Fence. Below are some audience responses we received.

Team Daphna

“As generous & touching as the gift to Melody was it should have stayed within the blood family.”

“Very romantic of Lima, but it is misplaced in view of the heritage of the chai”

On the Fence

“It’s about remembering their grandpa’s survival no matter what.”

Team Liam

“The more diverse our family and background is, the fabric of our society only gets richer and more complex”

“We are all humans and Melody should have the chai as much as Daphna”

Following the performance on October 24, Michael Schulman of The New Yorker hosted a talkback featuring leaders of NYC Faith Communities, Bad Jews playwright Joshua Harmon & actors Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger and Michael Zegen. The discussion also offered some very interesting insights on family, faith and legacy.



Did you see Bad Jews? Leave a comment below to let us know which side of the debate you were on.


Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Bad Jews

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Interview with Director, Daniel Aukin

Posted on: September 16th, 2013 by Roundabout


Education Dramaturg Ted Sod interviewed director Daniel Aukin to discuss his work on Bad Jews.


Ted Sod: Would you tell us a little about yourself?

Daniel Aukin: I was born in London. My father, David Aukin, was Artistic Director of several theatres, including the Hampstead Theatre in London, and he also ran the Haymarket in Leicester, England.  Later he ran the National Theatre with Richard Eyre. My mother, Nancy Meckler, is American and a theatre director. She has directed all over the UK and internationally. For about 20 years, she was the Artistic Director of the Shared Experience Theatre Company in London.


TS: How did you get involved with Bad Jews? Who approached you with the play?

DA: I was asked to read it and I thought it was an extremely personal, painful, and very funny piece of writing. At that point, Roundabout Underground had already committed to doing it. It just struck a huge chord for me. I first met with Josh at Robyn Goodman’s office. She was there as well as Jill Rafson, the Literary Manager at Roundabout, and Josh Fiedler, Robyn’s associate. We talked for a bit about the play and they told me about its development to date. They asked me some questions about it, how I responded to it. Then Josh and I went out and just had coffee and talked. That was really it. But as in all of these things, collaboration is a delicate thing and you just go with your gut.


TS: Can you talk about how the script resonated for you personally?

DA: I was instantly struck by what a confident voice Josh has as a playwright. The strength was apparent from the first pages. The play deals with the specifics of a very particular family and the legacy of the Holocaust on subsequent generations.  Yet I would never call it an “issue play.” It all feels very specific and pointed. He’s exploring many sides of a complicated issue. It deals with the legacy of history and how we live authentically in the present in relationship to the past. I also felt like it was a piece of writing—and you’d have to ask Josh if this is true—that the writer had to write, needed to write, and that he was using to try to understand something for and about himself.


TS: Can you talk about choosing and collaborating with your design team? How will the play manifest itself visually?

DA: For this play it seemed like the most important thing was for design to get out of the way. One of the considerations that we had when we were looking at floor plans of the apartment was: is it useful for there to be as much room as possible for the actors to move around in so that they can easily get from one section of the stage to another? Or is there greater value in there not being quite enough room for people to move around in, creating obstacles and difficulty? A lot of design meetings were spent talking about the family that bought this apartment and why they bought it, how long they’ve had it, what their income and socioeconomic background is, how they see this apartment and how it might be furnished to reflect all that. We looked at various moments in the play and tried to imagine how they might work in different configurations.


Tracee Chimo (Daphna), Philip Ettinger (Jonah), Molly Ranson (Melody) and Michael Zegen (Liam) in Bad Jews. Photo by Joan Marcus.


TS: I want to talk about the contrast between the characters of Liam and Daphna. What do you think motivates them?

DA: I don’t know if Josh would agree with this, and it may be too simplistic, but one way to look at it is that they’re both people who are trying to live very conscious lives and that means completely different things to each of them. To Daphna, that means a wholesale immersion in, and living through, what she understands as the legacy of her religion, and, I think, the Holocaust. Daphna sees that as a deeply authentic way to live and to be a conscious human. I think Liam might say that a lot of those things are empty of value and not meaningful to him. To pay lip service to something that isn’t meaningful to him would be inauthentic. So, in his own way, he’s living an authentic life even though to Daphna that comes across as a wholesale rejection of her choices. As a director, I’m looking to validate all of it.

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Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Bad Jews

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