Bad Jews


Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, the 2013-14 season’s first production at the Laura Pels Theatre begins previews September 19.

You may already know about Bad Jews, since this play had a big impact at our Black Box Theatre one year ago. We selected Josh’s play, under the direction of the wonderful Daniel Aukin, to be produced as part of the Roundabout Underground program, which gives productions to emerging playwrights. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the response that this play received. Our 62-seat theatre was being rocked to its foundations every night as the audience went absolutely wild for Josh’s work. When closing night rolled around, it just didn’t feel right to be saying goodbye to this one.

So, it’s time for a first: a direct transfer from the Underground to the Pels, as those Bad Jews move one story up and add a few hundred seats. I’m thrilled to be bringing this production back, particularly because the complete original cast and design team are with us once again. There is something truly special in the chemistry that Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger, Molly Ranson, and Michael Zegen developed on stage, and I think they are as happy to be back as we are to have them with us.

As with any show that gets such a strong response, I always find myself examining exactly what made it come together so beautifully. I’m willing to bet that the title alone was enough to intrigue many people. Would it be serious? Funny? Divisive? To me, the play is difficult to pin down, but that’s part of its charm. Somehow, Josh has found a way to be both reverent and irreverent on the subject of religion. At the same time, he creates characters who will feel like part of your own family but express their feelings far more vividly (and hilariously) than most. I suppose that calling the play a comedy is closest to the truth, but that characterization shouldn’t make you think that this writer isn’t getting down to serious business. What could be more serious than being stuck in a studio apartment…with your family?

That’s what truly captivates me so much about this piece – those familiar family dynamics that Josh has captured in all their uncomfortable glory. In many ways, family and tradition bring us together, especially as children, but what happens when the kids grow up and form beliefs of their own? Bad Jews looks at that very specific moment in time when a generation of cousins realizes that it’s up to them to decide how their culture will be perceived. Depending on their behavior, Judaism can be a collection of perfunctory traditions or a legacy of faith and survival. And the stakes are even higher when you’re the grandchildren of a man who lived through the Holocaust. For these characters, choosing to eat a cookie during Passover carries more than the average amount of Jewish guilt – it carries the symbolic weight of their feelings about the life of Judaism throughout the world.

In this play, all sides are allowed to have their say. And I think you’ll be surprised to find your own loyalties shifting throughout the evening. A character who behaves repugnantly can be both awful and absolutely right at the same time. The gentlest of souls may bring out the strongest emotions. And even the most assured can have their faith shaken. It’s a play that lives on ever-shifting ground, which is exactly what makes it so exciting to watch.

I’m thrilled to be bringing this play to a wider audience this season, and I hope that you will share your thoughts on Bad Jews with me after seeing the show. Please email me at and let me know what you think about this provocative play.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!


Todd Haimes
Artistic Director

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2013-2014 Season, Bad Jews

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BAD JEWS is moving upstairs in 2013

Posted on: February 1st, 2013 by Todd Haimes


It is my great pleasure to announce that the first production of the 2013-2014 Season at the Laura Pels Theatre will bring back the entire company of Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews for an Off-Broadway remount after their sold-out run in the Black Box this season. It is incredibly satisfying to see an Underground show make the move upstairs. And with Tracee Chimo, Michael Zegen, Molly Ranson, and Philip Ettinger returning to the roles they originated, I know our audiences will enjoy seeing the fireworks fly once again. Daniel Aukin will return to direct along with the fantastic original design team.

I am also excited to announce the full roster for the 2nd Annual Roundabout Underground Reading Series, which presented the first public reading of Bad Jews last season. The Recommendation by Jonathan Caren, Swimmers by Rachel Bonds, Tinker to Evers to Chance by Mat Smart, Shiner by Christian Durso, and Benefit of the Doubt by Kate Gersten will each be presented over the week of February 25th – March 1st in the Black Box Theatre. A limited number of tickets to the reading series will be available to general public. These tickets can be reserved by emailing

It is great to see the new play development program so present at the Steinberg Center for Theatre, from the first look at a crop of new plays in the Reading Series, to The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin premiering at the Pels this Spring, through to the first Off-Broadway transfer of our own Underground production next season.

I encourage you to sign up to be part of Roundabout’s Email Club as members will be notified first about ticket availability for the 2013-2014 Season.

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director

Related Categories:
2013-2014 Season, Bad Jews, Bad Jews, From Todd Haimes, Roundabout Underground