Cleveland Play House

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Cleveland Play House
Cleveland Play House Logo.jpg
Formation 1915
Type Theatre group
Location
  • 1407 Euclid Avenue
    Cleveland, OH 44115
Artistic director(s) Laura Kepley
Website www.clevelandplayhouse.com

Cleveland Play House (CPH) is a professional regional theater company located in Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded in 1915 and built its own noted theater complex in 1927. Currently the company performs at the Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square Center where it has been based since 2011.[1]

Cleveland Play House is organized like most American theater companies, with a board of directors and a number of administrators. The Board of Directors is chaired by Alec Pendleton. The Artistic Director is Laura Kepley and the Managing Director is Kevin Moore. The theater's national directors are Alan Alda, Austin Pendleton, and Joel Grey.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

In the early 1900s Cleveland theatre featured mostly vaudeville, melodrama, burlesque and light entertainment. But a select group of eight Clevelanders, among them Charles and Minerva Brooks and Julia and Walter Flory, sought plays of substance on timely topics. Together, they formed Cleveland Play House. They found a home in a farmhouse donated by Cleveland’s industrialist Francis Drury located at East 85th and Euclid Avenue which ultimately became the site of a long-lasting home of CPH.

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first permanently established professional theatre company. It was founded midway through a decade of cultural renaissance in Cleveland. Through a partnership of idealistic vision and philanthropic largess, many of Cleveland’s major cultural organizations were formed between 1910 and 1920—Cleveland Music School Settlement, Karamu House, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Museum of Natural History.

This Cleveland Play House facility, built in 1927, housed the Brooks Theatre and the Drury Theatre. To accommodate its growth, CPH in 1949 opened the 77th Street Theatre in a converted church, which featured America’s first open stage – the forerunner of the thrust stage that was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1980s, the 77th Street Theatre was closed, Cleveland Play House purchased the Sears building and the world-renown architect Philip Johnson designed significant additions for the complex, including the Bolton Theatre. With the 1927 buildings, the Sears building and the Johnson buildings taken together, the complex for CPH became the largest regional theatre complex in the country.

Recent history[edit]

In 2009, through a collaboration called “The Power of Three,” CPH partnered with PlayhouseSquare and Cleveland State University to create the new Allen Theatre Complex in downtown Cleveland. In July 2009, CPH sold its building at 86th Street and Euclid Avenue to Cleveland Clinic. In September 2011, CPH kicked off its the 96th consecutive season in a reinvented Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Two new venues adjacent to the Allen Theatre came on board in January 2012, the Second Stage (renamed the Outcalt Theatre in 2014) and the Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre. A new production center is now located along the lakeshore in Cleveland, and administrative offices and education center are on East 13th Street.

The list of plays and playwrights that have had premiers at Cleveland Play House is impressive, the most notable being Tennessee WilliamsYou Touched Me, and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage. Other notable premiers include The Pleasure of Honesty by Luigi Pirandello, Simone by Ben Hecht, Translations by Brian Friel, A Decent Birth by William Saroyan, Command by William Wister Haines, Ten Times Table by Alan Ayckbourn, The March on Russia by David Storey, The Archbishop’s Ceiling by Arthur Miller, The First Monday in October by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Lillian by William Luce, The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel, Jerusalem by Seth Greenland, The Smell of the Kill by Michele Lowe, and Bright Ideas by Eric Coble. Cleveland Play House continues to have a strong commitment to new works, especially those written by Ohio playwrights. The current policy for submission of new plays only permits unsolicited works to be submitted by playwrights who currently reside in the state of Ohio.

At least one mainstage production in each season is a new play.

Playwrights' Unit[edit]

The Playwrights' Unit is a group of experienced, accomplished playwrights from the Cleveland area who receive creative and administrative support from Cleveland Play House. The Unit meets regularly with members of the CPH artistic staff, where they read their works-in-progress and provide each other with feedback. Many of the plays developed in the Playwrights' Unit have been produced by Cleveland Play House, other Cleveland area theatres, and across the United States. Admission into the Playwrights' Unit is by invitation. Currently the CPH Playwrights' Unit consists of Eric Coble, Michael Geither, David Hansen, Margaret Lynch, Deborah Magid, Michael Oatman & Eric Schmiedl.[2]

Master of Fine Arts Program[edit]

Founded in 1996, the MFA program at Cleveland Play House is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University and has a growing national reputation, having produced many successful graduates. The master's degree for actors is a three-year program with a new class beginning study every other year. Tuition is waived, and an annual living stipend awarded to each student automatically. The most notable graduate to date is Rich Sommer (class of 2004), who is featured on the AMC series Mad Men and had a recurring role on NBC’s The Office. Elizabeth A. Davis (class of 2006), was nominated for a Tony for her performance in Once. During the students' third year in the program, they are engaged on an Actors' Equity contract in a Cleveland Play House main stage production. They conclude their studies by performing in an agent showcase in New York. During their term of study, the students are also cast in readings and other smaller productions. Each year of study focuses on a different area and period of theatre, as well as a cumulative study of voice, movement, and technique.

New Ground Theatre Festival[edit]

New Ground Theatre Festival (formerly known as FusionFest) is an annual showcase of new theatrical works. Cleveland Play House develops and presents a variety of new work from nationally recognized artists, and each year produces a centerpiece production. Other offerings range from fully produced large-scale collaborations with peer top-tier organizations to solo performances to readings of plays hot off the writer's printer. The Roe Green Award brings a leading American playwright to Cleveland to develop a new project culminating in a public reading and master class.

Notable artists[edit]

Joel Grey, Margaret Hamilton, Paul Newman, Eleanor Parker, June Squibb and Jack Weston are among the many actors whose careers began at the Play House which also operates the nation’s oldest community-based-theatre-education programs.

Artistic Directors[edit]

1915–1921 Raymond O’Neil
1921–1958 Frederic McConnell
1959–1970 K. Elmo Lowe
1970–1971 William Green
1971–1985 Richard Oberlin
1988–1993 Josephine Abady
1994–2004 Peter Hackett
2004–2013 Michael Bloom
2013–Present Laura Kepley

Recent Productions[edit]

2011-2012 Season[edit]

Show Date Location
The Life of Galileo September 17 - October 9 Allen Theatre
Daddy Long Legs October 21 - November 13 Allen Theatre
The Game's Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) December 2 - December 24 Allen Theatre
Ten Chimneys December 31 - February 1 Second Stage - Arena Configuration
Radio Golf December 31 - March 3 Allen Theatre
Red March 16 - April 8 Allen Theatre
In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) April 13 - May 13 Second Stage - Thrust Configuration
Summer Event: One Night With Janis Joplin July 27 - August 19 Allen Theatre

2012-2013 Season[edit]

Show Date Location
Lombardi September 14 - October 7 Allen Theatre
The Whipping Man November 2 - November 25 Second Stage - Thrust Configuration
A Carol for Cleveland November 30 - December 23 Allen Theatre
Bell, Book and Candle January 11 - February 3 Allen Theatre
The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith February 15 - March 10 Allen Theatre
Good People March 22 - April 14 Allen Theatre
Rich Girl April 19 - May 12 Second Stage - Thrust Configuration
Summer Event: Maestro: Leonard Bernstein July 17 - August 4 Allen Theatre

2013-2014 Season[3][edit]

Show Date Location
Woody Sez September 13 - October 6 Allen Theatre
Venus in Fur November 1 - December 1 Second Stage
A Christmas Story November 29 - December 22 Allen Theatre
Yentl January 10 - February 2 Allen Theatre
Breath and Imagination February 14 - March 9 Allen Theatre
Clybourne Park March 21 - April 13 Allen Theatre
Informed Consent April 18 - May 11 Second Stage
Maurice Hines Is Tappin' Thru Life May 30 - June 29 Allen Theatre

2014-2015 Season[4][edit]

Show Date Location
The Little Foxes September 12 - October 5 Allen Theatre
How We Got On October 24 - November 16 Outcalt Theatre
A Christmas Story November 28 - December 21 Allen Theatre
Five Guys Named Moe January 23 - February 15 Allen Theatre
The Pianist of Willesden Lane February 27 - March 22 Allen Theatre
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike April 3 - April 26 Allen Theatre
Fairfield May 1 - May 24 Outcalt Theatre

References[edit]

External links[edit]