Cleveland Play House names new artistic director
The Cleveland Play House named Michael Barakiva as its 10th artistic director this week. The New York-based director recently collaborated on two CPH productions, “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein" and “Ken Ludwig’s Moriarty: A New Sherlock Holmes Adventure."
Barakiva is an Armenian-Israeli American director and writer whose work has been seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Syracuse Stage and the Hangar Theatre, where he served as artistic director.
In a statement, he said he "fell in love" with the city while working here this year. Barakiva will work with Rachel Fink, who returned to her hometown this year from Chicago to become CPH's managing director.
The moves come after more than a year of change at the 108-year-old company. Longtime CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley left abruptly last year and was replaced by Mark Cuddy, who signed on for a year. He then took on the added role of managing director with the departure of Collette A. Laisure last fall.
Last season, two productions were canceled. First, the “Light It Up!” holiday spectacular was scrapped at the request of its creative team. Then, “I’m Back Now” had its performance rights pulled by its creator in response to reports of poor management. CPH acknowledged there were “missteps in efforts to respond to a sexual assault” of an actor at housing provided by the company and identified plans for improvement.
Cleveland Play House has been based at Playhouse Square since 2012. It sold its previous home near the Cleveland Clinic’s Downtown campus in 2009. The building was demolished this year.
Barakiva is also a novelist. His first novel, 2014's "One Man Guy," was followed by a sequel, "Hold My Hand." His next work is "The Keepers of the Stones and Stars," slated for release next year. On his website, he calls it "a queer protag YA contemporary epic fantasy."