Dobama Theatre is a theater founded in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in 1959 by Donald and Marilyn Bianchi, Barry Silverman, and Mark Silverberg. The name Dobama was created from the first two letters of each man's name. The first play produced by Dobama Theatre was The Rope Dancers by Morton Wishengrod.
Dobama Theatre's current mission is to premiere the best contemporary plays by established and emerging playwrights in professional productions of the highest quality. Through educational and outreach programming, Dobama Theatre nurtures the development of theatre artists and builds new audiences for the arts while provoking an examination of our contemporary world.
After almost ten years as a nomadic theater company using various spaces around Cleveland, Dobama established a permanent home on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights in 1968. From its origin, the artistic director was Donald Bianchi, though his wife Marilyn Bianchi was a strong artistic presence until her death in 1977.
In 1976, one of the founders, Barry Silverman, assumed proprietorship of the Belfry Theater in Wisconsin for a few summer seasons under the name "Dobama West."
From 1991 to the end of 2008, Dobama has been managed by artistic director Joyce Casey, who made Dobama a "leading producer of new and recent plays".
On September 25, 2009 Dobama inaugurated a new, permanent location at the Cleveland Heights Public Library facility, stewarded by the company's third artistic director, Joel Hammer.
The theatre's current artistic director Nathan Motta took over artistic duties on February 15, 2013 having previously directed the Cleveland premiere production of "A Bright New Boise" at Dobama. Motta was also the founder of the Dobama Emerging Actors Program, a summer training intensive for High school and college theatre students, where he directed productions of "Blood Wedding", "Antigone", and "The Tempest".
From its founding to the present Dobama has been known for producing alternative work that would not otherwise be seen in Cleveland. This ranges from their initial production in 1959 to a powerful staging of The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill and their many current productions of new and Off Broadway work.
Notable plays that have seen their Cleveland premiere at Dobama Theatre are "The Pillowman", "The Goat or Who is Sylvia?", "The Last Five Years", "The Larame Project", "Closer", "Wit", "How I Learned to Drive", "All in the Timing", "Top Girls", "Marvin's Room", "Speed the Plow", "Cloud Nine", "True West", "Catch 22", "Roots", "On the Verge", "God of Carnage", "4000 Miles" and the first professional Cleveland production of "Angels In America".
Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Playwriting Festival
Dobama Theatre is well known for its annual Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Playwriting Festival, open to Cuyahoga County students in grades 1 through 12. Each year, the Festival receives between four and five hundred plays, of which a small number are chosen for professional production. Winning plays submitted by older students are presented by the Night Kitchen, while the younger winners see their plays performed at the annual recognition ceremony.
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