The J Theater has announced that Hayley Finn (her) will become its new Artistic Director on February 1, 2023. Hayley Finn joins General Manager David Lloyd Olson (he/him) in directing the theatre, which is a program of the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center DC (EDCJCC). Finn comes to the J Theater after sixteen years at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, MN, where she served as Associate Artistic Director.
Finn is an accomplished director and producer with over twenty-five years of professional theater experience in all aspects of the profession including production, directing, casting, education, fundraising , and has been instrumental in building national partnerships for Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional and international theaters. At Playwrights’ Center, Finn worked with some of the nation’s leading playwrights and during his tenure produced over 1,000 workshops. She has also been Co-Artistic Director of Red Eye Theater since 2019, where she co-produced and curated the New Works 4 Weeks Festival, an annual four-week festival that commissions 11 artists each year to create new performance works. -led the fundraising and development of a new 150-seat black box theater in Minneapolis.
As Artistic Director of Theater J, Finn will be responsible for conceiving, developing and implementing the artistic vision and direction of Theater J. She will select plays for Theater J’s 2023-2024 season. and oversee the theatre’s ongoing play development initiatives, including the Yiddish Theater Lab, which is dedicated to preserving and reviving the forgotten literature of Yiddish theatre, and Expanding the Canon, which seeks to correct and expand the historically limited portrayals of Jewishness on stage by commissioning seven Jewish writers of various races and ethnicities to create comprehensive new plays.
“I am honored to become the next Artistic Director of Theater J and to continue its mission to tell stories that illuminate the complexities and nuances of the Jewish experience and the human condition through diverse perspectives and aesthetic visions,” said Hayley. Finn. “I am committed to building on the rich heritage of theater by producing dynamic theatrical works that ask relevant questions of our time to inspire greater empathy and understanding. During my career, I have worked closely collaboration with many amazing playwrights and I am excited to continue to develop, produce and champion writers responding to our rapidly changing world. I look forward to collaborating with the staff, artists, J Theater Board, Board of administration of the EDCJCC and the community at large to create an inclusive creative space where artists can flourish and audiences can have meaningful experiences in theatre.”
“I am thrilled to have Hayley join the Edlavitch DCJCC to continue the nationally acclaimed work of Theater J,” said EDCJCC Executive Director Jennifer Zwilling (Elle). “I was thrilled to interview Hayley as one of my first acts as CEO, and am grateful to the search committee for their thorough process and for recommending Hayley for the position.”
A search committee comprised of EDCJCC board members, Theater J Council members and theater artists conducted a nationwide search. “After meeting many amazing candidates throughout the search process,” said search committee chair and Theater J Council member Howard Menaker (he/him), “the committee unanimously selected Hayley for the role because of his deep production and directing experience, vast knowledge of America’s best and brightest playwrights, and deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”
“Hayley Finn joins the J Theater at a moment of strength,” says J Theater General Manager David Lloyd Olson, “at a time when most theaters nationwide have seen their subscription viewership dwindle, “Theater J’s membership is now larger than it has been in the past seven years, and I believe that with Hayley as Artistic Director, our programming will continue to develop a large and diverse audience.”
Finn has staged nationally and internationally, including at Cherry Lane Theater (New York, NY), Curious Theater Company (Denver, CO), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland), Ellis Island (New York), at the Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, MN), HERE Arts Center (New York, NY), History Theater (St. Paul, MN), Flea Theater (New York, NY), The Kitchen (New York, NY), LAByrinth Theater Company (New York, NY), Marin Theater Company (Mill Valley, CA), New Dramatists (New York, NY), O’Neill Theater Center (Waterford, CT), Pillsbury House (Minneapolis, MN) , People’s Light (Malvern, PA), Public Theater (New York, NY), Playwrights’ Horizons (New York, NY), Red Eye Theater (Minneapolis, MN) South Coast Repertory Theater (Costa Mesa, CA) and the Nine Gates Festivals in Prague. Recent accomplishments include the world premiere of Christina Ham’s West of Central at the Pillsbury House Theater and the regional premiere of her play Nina Simone: Four Women at People’s Light and Significant Other by Josh Harmon at the Six Points Theater (formerly Minnesota Jewish Theatre) where she has directed seven productions. Finn served as assistant director on several Broadway productions, including the Tony Award-winning production of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
Finn is an alumnus of the Drama League’s Directing Program, recipient of the Ruth Easton Fellowship, TCG Future Leader Grant, support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Arts Initiative Grant from Minnesota State Arts. Board. She received her BA and MA from Brown University.
The J Theater is a nationally recognized professional theater that celebrates, explores and grapples with the complexities and nuances of the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. Our work illuminates and examines the ethical issues of our time, cross-cultural experiences paralleling our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the largest and most important Jewish theater in the country, we aim to preserve and develop a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theatrical experiences.
Theater J is a program of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC). Guided by Jewish values and heritage, Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center engages individuals and families through its cultural, recreational, educational and social justice programs by welcoming people from all walks of life to connect, learn, serve and entertain together in a way that reflects the Centre’s unique role in the nation’s capital.