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Playwrights Local 4181 Launches New Playwrights’ Center for Northeast Ohio

October 7th, 2015 No comments

Playwrights Local 4181 Logo

Inaugural festival to be held November 6-7, 2015, at Waterloo Arts

(Cleveland, OH; October 7, 2015) — Playwrights Local 4181 announces its debut as Northeast Ohio’s first playwrights’ development and production center, marking its launch with a free festival on November 6 & 7, 2015. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Playwrights Local presents new plays written exclusively by area dramatists. It also offers classes and engages the community through site-specific projects. Playwrights Local is a home for novice and experienced dramatic writers to learn, create, and share their work.

“This type of organization has already succeeded in Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Cincinnati,” said David Todd, Artistic Director of Playwrights Local. “We see this as a way of putting our under-recognized playwrights on the map, and of making their plays a bigger part of the arts conversation.”

Literary Manager Arwen Mitchell seconds the need for a space in Greater Cleveland dedicated to dramatic writing. “Other theaters support local playwrights to the extent that they can, but there’s no place focused on them exclusively,” Mitchell said. “Having an outlet like Playwrights Local is both amazing and essential.”

Playwrights Local 4181 welcomes the Northeast Ohio community to its inaugural Cleveland Playwrights Festival on November 6 & 7, 2015. All sessions in this event are free. (Online registration is recommended.) Dramatic writers of all skill levels can participate in workshops and discussions. Fans of live theater can attend staged readings of local works and take part in a recording of Mike Geither’s podcast play, Flame Puppy. Other offerings include a luncheon and post-show reception. The festival will be held at Waterloo Arts in Collinwood (15605 Waterloo Road, Cleveland, OH 44110).

Information on festival sessions and registration is available at www.playwrightslocal.org. Tax-deductible donations in support of this new, locally focused arts organization also may be made at the site.

Holiday Giving — Do Your Part

December 2nd, 2016 No comments

We’ve entered the giving season, so I thought I’d write about one organization, other than Playwrights Local that is, to which I’m giving my money.

I’m writing about a black box theater in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. A theater company that changed my theatrical life, and radically altered my perception of how intimate, how powerful, how threatening, and how exhilarating theater can be.

petrol23I was introduced to convergence-continuum in 2007, when Mike Geither took me to see Chris Johnston’s play Spawn of the Petrolsexuals. The experience was fundamentally altering. Chris wrote a play about a dystopian, bombed-out landscape in which homeless superheroes fought brutal, oil-hungry Commandoids that I can only compare to the Enclave, for those of you familiar with Fallout. There was Angerboy, and Freegrrl, Ingen and Holyman. It reminds me, now looking back, of an early Eric Overmyer play, like Native Speech. The set the convergence created was a character in the play: fabricated steel structures, junk scattered, a broken television set, the massive east wall that was used as movie screen, a motorcycle, a garage door that really opened on Scranton Road, garbage cans, and the trap door near the west wall that leads to the cellar.

Lucy Bredeson-Smith, playing Darkangel—-a sort of black sorceress –- opens the trap door leading down to her underground lair and, as soon as she opens the door: the image of Darkangel looking down is on the movie screen east wall. I watch her descend away from me in the theater. I watch her descend toward me on the screen.

It was too meta. I was IN a B-movie and IN a real theater experience all at the same time. My head swelled to explode. The production was well-executed, but the feeling was raw. I went back two more times to see Chris’ play because I’d never seen anything like it. And this is what I hear whenever I take someone to convergence who has never been to convergence. The person who accompanies me is blown away, overwhelmed with a theater experience that they’ve didn’t know was possible: to be that close, to be that much a part of the experience, to feel so intensely.

Convergence is a true ensemble company. It’s made up of passionate, wholly committed actors, directors, light designers, sound designers, playwrights, video designers, costumers, set designers, painters, box office managers, and musicians—all volunteers: virtually impossible to believe in many ways. And they are all successful!! Critically acclaimed productions! Awards for acting, design, productions! And all working for the production itself, and not some small rapacious little thing like money or notoriety or any self-proclaimed “groundbreaking” aesthetic.

So, besides this… why give? convergence-continuum, the theater company, doesn’t own The Liminis, the theater space, in which they create their magic worlds! The Liminis space itself, that was so unique to the production I described above—-the garage door, the trap door, the movie screen wall—-all of the three-dimensional feast of experiences possible in a location—-is at risk.

What if theatre weren’t a mirror reflecting the familiar, but an opening into unknown territory? What if there were no fourth wall? What if, instead of going to the theatre to watch a play, you crossed the threshold into the world of the play to experience it? Theatre that expands the imagination and extends the conventional boundaries of language, structure, space, and performance that challenges the conventional notions of what theatre is. What sort of theatre would this be?

convergence-continuum

I’m giving to convergence right now. Please give to them as well.

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