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CPH New Ground Theatre Festival: Jonatha Brooke and Eric Coble

Eric Coble and Jonatha Brooke
Eric Coble and Jonatha Brooke

Cleveland Play House debuts fresh new works in its 2015 New Ground Theatre Festival 
Festival opens with the World Premiere of Eric Coble’s FAIRFIELD
Roe Green Award bestowed upon Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rebecca Gilman

CLEVELAND, OH ( March 30, 2015) Cleveland Play House (CPH) will bring some of America’s top playwrights to Cleveland in their 2015 New Ground Theatre Festival (NGTF.)  CPH’s annual showcase of new theatrical works, once again made possible by Honorary Producer Roe Green, gives playwrights from around the nation the opportunity to test-drive new work, collaborate with CPH artists, and launch never-before-seen productions on CPH’s stages.  CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley interjects: “Roe's generosity makes new work at Cleveland Play House possible.  Because of her, we are able to create new plays that speak to the current moment which will have a lasting impact on local audiences and the national field.” 

The 2015 festival will have two fully-staged productions, two play readings - which will allow the playwrights to gauge audience response to their new work - and will host behind-the-scenes events which will give guests the opportunity to interact with the artists themselves.  For the fourth consecutive year, The Roe Green Award will bring a leading American playwright to CPH.  This year’s recipient is Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebecca Gilman, who will spend a week in Cleveland developing her new play Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976, culminating with a world premiere reading of the piece.  The 2015 NGTF will run from May 6 – 16.  Tickets are on sale now!  Festival support comes from Presenting Sponsor Ohio Savings Bank and Associate Sponsors Cleveland Clinic and Kemper House.

A world premiere from Cleveland’s own Eric Coble will open the 2015 NGTF.  Fairfield is the witty, insightful comedy by Coble, whose work has been called “…a tour de force with physical and verbal comedy to spare” by The New Yorker.  His fully-staged production of Fairfield, directed by CPH’s Artistic Director Laura Kepley, will have audiences in stitches, and will spark conversations about the meaning of “social taboo,” and those conversations will continue with added post-show discussions after every performance.  Next up will be a play reading of Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors.  Ludwig has had 6 shows on Broadway and 7 in London’s West End, and his plays and musicals have been performed in more than 30 countries in over 20 languages.  A Comedy of Tenors will feature some of Ludwig’s most beloved characters from his critically acclaimed comedic smash hit, Lend Me a Tenor.  This play reading will offer a sneak-peak of what’s to come in September 2015, when a fully-staged production of A Comedy of Tenors will kick off CPH’s 100th Season.  The festival will continue with a fully-staged production of My Mother Has Four Noses by playwright and rock folk singer, Jonatha Brooke.  This play with music tells a poignant mother-daughter love story that the New York Post called “An affectionate, well-crafted, surprisingly funny new musical.  You won’t be able to tell anymore if you’re laughing or crying.  Probably because you’ll be doing both.” 


Roe Green Award                                                                                                                             

Each year, the Roe Green Award is awarded to a nationally recognized playwright for outstanding achievement in playwriting.  The award includes a $7,500 cash prize; a week-long residency including rehearsals; a Master Class with CPH Playwrights’ Unit, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University students; and a public reading of a new play.  This year’s winner, Rebecca Gilman, will hold a reading of her play Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976 on Saturday, May 16 at 5 p.m. in The Helen.  Ms. Gilman is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and the recipient of many awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship, American Theatre Critics Association’s Osborn Award for best new play, and the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, among others.  Her work has also made Time Magazine’s” best new play of the year” and “top ten best plays of the decade” lists.

ROE GREEN is an arts patron, community activist, and chief executive officer of the Roe Green Foundation. With a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Communications from University of Colorado and a master’s degree in Theatre from Kent State University, her experience in stage and business management includes Cain Park, Cleveland Opera, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Today she is president emeritus of CAVORT, Inc., the Conference About Volunteers of Regional Theatres; serves on the Kent State University School of Theatre and Dance advisory board; the foundation board of Kent State University; the board of Porthouse Theatre; the board of Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, Florida; and the board of Cleveland Play House. She is responsible for the Roe Green Visiting Director Series for the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State and the University of Colorado. Ms. Green has received numerous awards for her support of the arts and new play development including; the 2009 State of Ohio Governor’s Award for Arts Patron; the Dramatist Guild’s Patron of the Arts Award (2013); and the Muse Award (2014) from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. In 2013, she received the CPH Centennial Star Award that recognizes select individuals who have made special and important contributions to CPH’s rich legacy of artistic and educational programming. 2015 marks the fourth year of the Roe Green Award at CPH which recognizes a playwright and the development of a new work.





May 1-31, 2015 • Outcalt Theatre

Written by Eric Coble

Directed by Laura Kepley

“Peace. Love. Respect for all.” So goes the motto of Fairfield Elementary, a public school located in a diverse, liberal district. But when a young teacher’s misguided attempts at celebrating Black History Month take a hilariously dark turn, chaos erupts and it seems it may be impossible to safely reach the ‘CelebrEthnic Potluck.’ Fairfield is a razor-sharp, insightful comedy from Cleveland playwright Eric Coble that examines how we each determine what’s appropriate and inappropriate, and whether “We Shall Overcome.”


Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors

Play Reading

May 9, 2015 • The Helen

Written by Ken Ludwig

Directed by Stephen Wadsworth

Three tenors.  Three egos.  One stage.  What could possibly go wrong?  Producer – and former mayor of Cleveland – Henry Saunders is about to find out as he attempts to stage the concert of the century.  But with an amorous Italian superstar and his hot-blooded wife causing chaos on an operatic level, all bets are off!  As opening night draws near, flaring tempers, mistaken identities, and bedroom hijinks bring new meaning to the phrase “the show must go on.”  Set amidst the glitz and glamour of 1930’s Paris, A Comedy of Tenors is a laugh-out-loud farce from comedic mastermind Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, The Games Afoot: or Holmes for the Holidays) directed by internationally acclaimed Stephen Wadsworth. 


My Mother Has 4 Noses

A new play with music

May 14-16, 2015 • Allen Theatre

Written and performed by Jonatha Brooke

Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen

Folk rock singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke was always close to her mother Darren, a Christian Scientist and poet, even when they didn’t see eye to eye on religion. So when Darren is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Jonatha puts her life on hold and becomes her caretaker. Together they embark on this new “adventure” where faith is tested and poetry discovered in the unlikeliest of places. With humor and honesty, My Mother Has 4 Noses interweaves original music with personal narrative to tell a beautiful, poignant mother-daughter love story.



Play Reading  

May 16 at 5:00 pm • The Helen                                                                                                       

Directed by Laura Kepley

Rebecca Gilman is a prominent, award-winning contemporary playwright known for her relevant and topical works.  She is based in Chicago, teaches at Northwestern University, and has written plays that have been produced at leading theatres in the U.S. and abroad. As the 2015 Roe Green Award Winner, Gilman will be in Cleveland developing a new work that will be presented for the first time in this New Ground reading.

“Gilman writes accessible plays with such intriguing plots that the audience finds itself hungry for what is going to happen next.” — American Theatre


Behind-the-Scenes: New Ground Theatre Festival

From Idea to Opening: Eric Coble and Ken Ludwig on New Play Development

May 9, 2015, 12:30 - 1:30pm


In Conversation: 2015 Roe Green Award Winner Rebecca Gilman

May 16, 2016, 3:30-4:30pm


New Ground Theatre Festival Schedule:

Wednesday, May 6

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

Thursday, May 7

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

Friday, May 8

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

9:30 pm                       Avant Ground – New Ground Theatre Festival Opening Event

Saturday, May 9

12:30 - 1:30 pm           Behind-the-Scenes: New Play Development | Kalberer Lobby of the Allen Theatre

2:30 - 4:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

5:00 - 7:00 pm             Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors (reading) | The Helen

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

Sunday, May 10

2:30 - 4:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

Tuesday, May 12

7:00 - 9:00 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

Wednesday, May 13

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

Thursday, May 14

1:30 - 3:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

7:30 - 9:15 pm             My Mother Has Four Noses | Allen Theatre

                                    + Post-show panel with Cleveland Clinic staff

Friday, May 15

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

7:30 - 9:15 pm             My Mother Has Four Noses | Allen Theatre

Saturday, May 16

2:30 - 4:15 pm             My Mother Has Four Noses | Allen Theatre

                                    + post-show TalkBack w/ Jonatha Brooke & Alzheimers expert

2:30 - 4:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

3:30 - 4:30 pm             Behind-the-Scenes: Conversation with Roe Green Award winner Rebecca Gilman | Kalberer Lobby of the Allen Theatre

5:00 - 7:00 pm             Roe Green Award reading of play Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976  | The Helen

7:30 - 9:30 pm             Fairfield | Outcalt Theatre

7:30 - 9:15 pm             My Mother Has Four Noses | Allen Theatre


Ticket & Multiple-Show Discount Pricing Information

CPH’s New Ground Theatre Festival will take place May 6 – 16, 2015.  Ticket prices for each show vary.  Tickets range in price from $10 – $59 each.  CPH subscribers will receive $10 off regular ticket prices.  Students and anyone under 35 will receive ½ off regular ticket prices. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com.  Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.