Focus On: The Auditorium/Performance Space
Central to the vision of our new auditorium and performance space is creating a world-class venue for arts and ideas that will bring the Jewish tradition to life in the modern world. This 200-seat room will offer our community—both on campus and beyond—a fully accessible venue with excellent acoustics and state-of-the-art technology for streaming events to an increasingly global audience. It will present cutting-edge work by Jewish theatre, music, and performance artists, as well as discussions with leading thinkers, writers, and public figures on Judaism and significant issues of the day.
Rabbi Bronwen Mullin, a playwright, composer, and educator serving as JTS’s rabbinic artist-in-residence, has begun planning major performances for the venue when it opens in fall 2019. She envisions “a state-of-the-art incubator for a contemporary, textually based, and provocative Jewish theatre” that will add a unique voice to the New York arts scene. Mullin plans to capitalize on JTS’s immense reservoir of Jewish scholarship by inviting accomplished, innovative Jewish artists to create new work while studying in hevruta, or one-on-one partnership, with JTS professors. “What we can do that no one else does is to combine the most provocative art makers with deep traditional learning,” says Mullin, who was ordained at JTS in 2017.
Rabbi Bronwen Mullen, Rabbinic Artist-in-Residence, JTS
The new performance space will give cantorial students—who often practice in small classrooms—a chance to let their voices soar in a large room with a bimah-like stage, says Cantor Nancy Abramson, director of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School. Cantorial students also will gain an additional practice area in the performance space’s “green room.” Abramson is excited at the opportunity the new hall will provide for JTS to partner with other institutions—including Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music—in bringing more musical performances to campus. A Steinway piano now in the Women’s League Seminary Synagogue has been completely refurbished and is ready for use in the new space.
JTS’s storied history of hosting noted writers and speakers will continue in the new auditorium, but will be significantly enhanced by the room’s stage, acoustics, and streaming technology. Rabbi Julia Andelman, director of Community Engagement, says the online audience for these events—which includes many synagogue groups—has now surpassed most in-person crowds and that a space designed for streaming technology will make a qualitative difference in making JTS events accessible worldwide. The new space will also allow us to screen compelling Jewish films.