Playwrights Local

Cleveland's home for dramatic writers.

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Scene’s “Best of Cleveland 2017”

Congratulations to our collaborators for their recognition in Scene magazine’s  “Best of Cleveland 2017.” Find links for two talents we’re proud to have worked with this year!

Best Actress: Amy Schwabauer

For her performance in our production of This is NOT About My Dead Dog.


Best Director: Terrence Spivey

For works including our original production of Objectively/Reasonable.


The Cleveland Foundation — Grant

Playwrights Local is happy to announce that it has received an operating support grant from the Cleveland Foundation.

This generous grant from the Cleveland Foundation will allow Playwrights Local to continue to develop and offer support for dramatic writers in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Playwrights Local is the only theater in Cleveland that uses 100% of its funds to support the development and production of Northeast Ohio playwrights.

The George Gund Foundation — Grant

Playwrights Local is pleased to announce that it has received a generous grant from The George Gund Foundation to support several projects for our 2017-2018 season.

This grant will enable Playwrights Local to cover expenses related to our revival production of Objectively/Reasonable and the Mac Wellman Homecoming Festival; Support the World Premiere of Things As They Are; Curate the performing arts programming for the 2017 Waterloo Arts Fest, and to present the 2017 3rd Annual Cleveland Playwrights Festival.

We at Playwrights Local wish to express our gratitude for this support. We thank the George Gund Foundation for their investment in us!

The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 as a private, nonprofit institution with the sole purpose of contributing to human well-being and the progress of society. Find more information on the Foundation at http://gundfoundation.org/.

3 Questions with Playwright/Performer Amy Schwabauer

Amy Schwabauer
is a Cleveland-based playwright and actor.  Her writing credits include Fluff Pup (Playwrights Local), the character of “Coach” in Positive Reinforcements (Theater Ninjas), and The Accounts of the Warren County Fair as Observed by a Young Astronaut, a tabletop adventure currently on tour with collaborator Mike Geither. Recent performing credits include Snake Oil (Ohio City Theatre Project), Tingle Tangle (Theater Ninjas), and Left in Ink (Cleveland Public Theatre).

Amy’s new one-person show This is Not About my Dead Dog was originally workshopped in Playwrights Local’s 2016 Play Lab. A full production of this hilarious-but-heartwrenching work opens on January 13 with direction by Dale Heinen.

Find more information on This is NOT About My Dead Dog at http://www.playwrightslocal.org/this-is-not/.

What inspired the writing of this play?

So many things inspired this play. I’ve written five variations of this story, and they were plays with multiple cast members, realistic drama, or cabaret acts, and then I realized that I was most interested in creating a one-woman piece that I could perform. And it suddenly all came together–all the plays I had written in this vein prior, the story that I wanted to tell, suddenly had clarity in this form. But I had to write those other plays first to get to this one, so they all played a role in the creation of this piece.

A lot of stuff about “my dead dog” came from something I wrote when I was dealing with her death, a piece of writing that I swore I would never read and kept locked up in the back of a drawer somewhere. And then one day I found it—that mysterious lost writing—and I was like, “This is it.”

Another big inspiration was working on the show Tingle Tangle with Theater Ninjas, conceived by Ray Caspio and directed by Jeremy Paul. That was the first show I had done in a long time that made me feel like an artist. I wrote a monologue about sex and alcohol that was the basis of Dead Dog when I was originally writing it. Jeremy gave me the freedom to be a writer and an actor and Ray helped me discover how to fearlessly tell my truth. That experience gave me a lot of courage to pursue the creation of my own show.

Rehearsal Photo (Credit: Dale Heinen)

What is like being both the writer and performer for this production? 

Well…it is the most challenging artistic endeavor I have ever undertaken in my entire life. Doing a one-person show uses every muscle, brain cell, and tool an actor has to give on stage, and then some. Doing one-person performance is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting—and on top of that, I wrote it, so sometimes the emotions can be overwhelming or I can have some painful moments of doubt.

Thank god for my director Dale Heinen! She has been amazing at helping me tell this story and guiding the story to always move forward. She has also helped me get through those moments of doubt and insecurity; she helps me keep my head in the right place. I’m really fortunate to have a director I can trust on every artistic level. I can’t imagine doing this piece without her.

The best advantage to being the writer is that I am performing the work I want to perform. I’m not agreeing to do a piece of theater that’s been done, or that I’m not 100% interested in or committed to. This piece is me, and this piece is raw and it’s a story that I want to tell. So that’s a really long way of saying, despite the struggle it is the most gratifying work I’ve ever done.

Rehearsal Photo (Credit: Dale Heinen)

What kind of experience do you hope audiences will have at this show?

A good one! Hah! I don’t know. The only thing I can really ask from the audience is to be present in the room with me. I’m really proud of this work, I’m proud of my artistic team, so I hope the audience sees the artistry that went into it all. I hope that audiences laugh. I hope they experience something that gives them pause, better yet a moment that they remember and think about a week or a month later—that would be cool.

I guess on a more serious note, I hope that they leave with a sense of compassion for all those awkward moments we have in life. And that when they experience their own awkward or scary moments they know they can survive—and laugh.

3 Questions with Director Dale Heinen

Director in Residence Dale Heinen comes to Playwrights Local after long stints as a dramaturge at Soho Theatre in London’s West End and as co-Artistic Director of an equity off-Loop theatre in Chicago. Her work has taken her to New York, Dublin, Tokyo, and Brazil. Since returning to her hometown of Cleveland, she has directed at Playwrights Local, Lake Erie College, and Cleveland Public Theatre.

Dale began working on This is NOT About My Dead Dog with playwright/performer Amy Schwabauer in Playwrights Local’s 2016 Play Lab.

Read her thoughts on this upcoming production, opening January 13 at Waterloo Arts, below.

Find more information on This is NOT About My Dead Dog at http://www.playwrightslocal.org/this-is-not/.

What excites you about working on a one person show? 

I’ve directed three other one person shows before: one in Chicago, one in New York, and one that was performed in London and other UK cities. All have been new plays, and two were adaptations. What I love about this form as a director/dramaturg is that my focus isn’t divided in the ways it usually is: between actors in a scene, between actors and the writer. There’s an uninterrupted, uncomplicated flow of information and ideas. It’s a very efficient way of working.

A challenge to this form is that it’s very demanding of the performer/writer. They’re wearing two hats, and must place an unusual amount of trust in one person to guide them towards performance readiness. I think it would be easy to be led down wrong paths. There needs to be a lot of trust on both sides, in fact. Rehearsals are demanding for the performer, as they’re always “on.”

Drama is typically built out of two or more characters acting on each other. Here, one actor has to create all of the characters and all of the conflict between them, and keep the energy and momentum going nonstop.

Sketch by set designer Elaine Hullihen

What can you say about Amy Schwabauer and the story she’s telling with this play? 

I think this is a story that everyone can relate to because it’s about the bumpy, and at time ridiculous and painful, transition from childhood to adulthood. This is a very personal play for Amy, yet it’s interesting–as the rehearsal process has progressed, we now speak of “her” and “she” rather than of “you” when referring to the Amy of the play. We draw from her personal experiences as we rehearse (in particular to detail moments), but we may deviate from history when it doesn’t push the story forward. Amy has pushed past the person she depicts in the play, which allows us to coax it into a piece of art that stands apart from biography. Even so, it can be bruising when we rehearse some of the more painful memory scenes.

By definition, a good actor can access those dark places, but in this case, these things really happened to Amy. That also gives it teeth and guts.

We continue to make small script changes in rehearsal as we evolve the piece from something that was more akin to standup towards a more theatrical form. It retains a strong storytelling aspect and is still funny, but we’re finding ways for the character to act rather than to narrate. It’s been great fun to discover the visual side of this play, which also leads back to script decisions.

Much of the development process is about clarity – which may mean reordering scenes, cutting superfluous material, and adding bridges so that themes and images link up.

Sketch by set designer Elaine Hullihen

What design approach are you taking with your collaborators, including set designer Elaine Hullihen, lighting designer Stephanie Kahn, and sound designer James Kosmatka? 

None of the designers had worked together before, but two had collaborated with Amy on other projects. That’s key, because Amy (as the creator) has an important voice in the design aspect of the play. Early on she had an idea that the set could have elements of a childhood bedroom. Elaine, the set designer, came up with something that has echoes of a girl’s childhood bedroom but also functions for the many scenes that aren’t set in a bedroom. It’s a memory space that exists somewhere in Amy’s own mind, with pieces from different stages of her life.

Amy manipulates the elements in the way that helps her share her story with the audience. The lighting and sound design take their cues from the play’s imagery and setting. All of the design elements flow freely between the real, the remembered, and the imagined.

Stephanie, the lighting designer, was drawn to the play’s koi fish/water imagery, especially the moon on the water at night, and the idea of an attic full of memories with light streaming in from a small, high window.  The lone whale separated from its pod is another key image.

James, the sound designer, is manipulating and mixing various whale sounds as a recurring theme (each species has its own sound!), and metamorphosing popular music in ways that express the play’s arc towards chaos.

These are a few of the ways in which we’re trying to make the inner life of the play manifest for audiences.

PL and "O/R" Recognized in BWW-Cle Theater Tributes

We’re thrilled to say that Objectively/Reasonable and Playwrights Local have received special recognitions in the 2016 Broadway World-Cleveland Regional Professional Theater Tributes.

Objectively/Reasonable was recognized in the category of 2016 Outstanding Non-Musical Productions. AND, Playwrights Local was recognized for “creating a venue for local playwrights to develop their works.”

On top of that, our own Ashley Aquilla was recognized in the category of 2016 Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Non-Musical.

See the announcement here!


Thanks to Roy Berko and the BWW-Cle Theater Tributes for this honor.

Thanks also to the entire creative team behind this play and to the audience members who made the production such an amazing experience.

Check out the return engagement of “Objectively/Reasonable” from February 17 – March 11, 2017 at Waterloo Arts! Tickets are available now at http://playwrightslocal.org/objectively-reasonable-return/.

PL and "O/R" Cited by Cleveland Critics Circle

We’re proud to announce that Objectively/Reasonable has been cited as the “Most Socially Significant Local Play” in the Cleveland Critics Circle’s 2016 Theater Awards, and that Playwrights Local was credited for “creating a venue for local playwrights to develop their works.” See the “Special Mentions” section in the link below!


We thank  the awards committee–Bob Abelman, Roy Berko, Kerry Clawson, Mark Horning, Christine Howey, David Ritchey, and Andrea Simakis–for their attention and support.

We also thank all of the cast, artistic staff, production team members, donors and benefactors, and audience members who made the premiere production of Objectively/Reasonable such  a meaningful experience. We’ve received such strong reactions from people for this play — its impact on audiences and ourselves continues to amaze us.

We hope to see you all again when Objectively/Reasonable returns in February/March 2017 for four more weeks at Waterloo Arts!

See our show page for that return engagement at http://playwrightslocal.org/objectively-reasonable-return/.

Or, find more info on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/612143835653375/.





"O/R" at YWCA's Forum on Race

itt-logo-2-1An Invited Performance of Excerpts from

Objectively/Reasonable: A Community Response to the Shooting of Tamir Rice, 11/22/14

YWCA Greater Cleveland’s
“It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race”

February 3, 2017 from 8:30 am – 1:30 pm
Mandel Humanities Center at Tri-C East

Playwrights Local is proud to announce that its recent production, Objectively/Reasonable, will be featured in an upcoming event hosted by YWCA Greater Cleveland. Original cast members Kaila Benford and Nathan Tolliver will open this half-day program with monologues from our critically acclaimed play on the 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice.

Entitled “Foundations for Change,” this gathering on February 3, 2017 is part of the YWCA Greater Cleveland’s series “It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race.” In addition to our performance, there will be a gallery walk, a keynote speaker, circle conversations, and lunch. The tentative schedule runs 8:30 am – 1:30 pm at the Mandel Humanities Center at Tri-C East. Complete information can be found at http://www.ywcaofcleveland.org/site/c.9hKQL9NNLmJ2G/b.9228373/k.4659/Its_Time_to_Talk_Forums_on_Race.htm.

Objectively/Reasonable: A Community Response to the Shooting of Tamir Rice, 11/22/14 originally ran from August 18 through September 4, 2016, at the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts. Directed by Terrence Spivey, the play was praised by Cool Cleveland as “a work that should travel to theaters all over the country…a catharsis” and by Broadway World as “a must-see experience for anyone interested in the real world around them.” Objectively/Reasonable was written by an ensemble of playwrights—Mike Geither, Tom Hayes, Lisa Langford, Michael Oatman, and David Todd—and conceived/edited by Todd. Additional information on the play is available at http://playwrightslocal.org/objectively-reasonable/.

“O/R” Invited to CPAC Event

logoPlaywrights Local is excited to bring our play “Objectively/Reasonable” to CPAC’s “Creative Intersections: Moving Forward” event on November 17! We will present a 45-minute excerpt from the play and host a talkback about our creative process. This event will run from 1:30-5:30pm at Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland.

Thanks so much to CPAC for inviting us to be a part of this program. We’re looking forward to performing with director Terrence Spivey and participating cast members Ashley Aquilla, India Burton, Samone Cummings, Kali Hatten, LaShawn Little, and Nathan Tolliver!

Tickets are still available at https://web.charityengine.net/default.aspx?tsid=7583.

More info on CPAC’s “Creative Intersections” series can be found at: http://cultureforward.org/Our-Programs/Creative-Intersections.

About CPAC
The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) is non profit organization in Cleveland, Ohio. We serve and support arts and culture professionals, community leaders and visionaries, who are shaping greater Cleveland. CPAC’s research and advocacy helps people make informed and inclusive decisions. Its training, online programming and customized advice supports new ideas, skills and connections. CPAC works to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture sector. CPAC envisions greater Cleveland’s diverse arts and culture sector as a leading partner in contributing to our community’s vitality and enlivening the human experience.

About “Objectively/Reasonable: A Community Response to the Shooting of Tamir Rice, 11/22/14”
A documentary play on the impact and aftermath of the Tamir Rice shooting, expressing unheard voices from the Cudell neighborhood and Greater Cleveland. This new work lets the people speak, with their fears, reservations, and hopes fueling monologues drawn from original interviews. “Objectively/Reasonable” was written by an ensemble of playwrights—Mike Geither, Tom Hayes, Lisa Langford, Michael Oatman, and David Todd—and conceived/edited by David Todd.

More info on the play: http://playwrightslocal.org/objectively-reasonable/

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