Playwrights Local

Cleveland's home for dramatic writers.

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2017 Awards & Recognitions!

The Cleveland-area 2017 theater awards are in, and Playwrights Local is proud to be featured among them.
Our deepest thanks to the critics for recognizing our work!
Congrats to all of our amazing collaborators on these projects!

The Cleveland Critics Circle 2017 Theater Awards
Awards Committee: Bob Abelman, Roy Berko, Kerry Clawson, Howard Gollop, Mark Horning, Christine Howey, and Andrea Simakis

Best Full-Production Premiere of a Script by a Local Writer

Superior Achievement: Things as They Are by David Todd

Best Projection Design

T. Paul Lowry, Things as They Are

The Best of Cleveland Theater in 2017
Christine Howey, Scene Magazine

Best Risks: Because It’s Vital for Risks to be Taken in Theater

Things As They Are

This is NOT About My Dead Dog

Best Portrayal of Real-Life Geniuses

Robert Hawkes, Things as They Are

2017 Broadway World-Cleveland Regional Professional Theater Tributes
Roy Berko

Outstanding Electronic Media in a Non-musical or Musical (Projection Design)

T. Paul Lowry, Things as They Are 

10 Most Memorable Moments in Cleveland Theater, 2017 Edition
Bob Abelman, Cleveland Jewish News

This Is NOT About My Dead Dog by Amy Schwabauer


Announcing Playwrights Welcome Membership

Playwrights Local is proud to be the first theater in Ohio to join the national Playwrights Welcome program, serving members of the Dramatists Guild of America. This initiative provides free access to theater for working playwrights, composers, and lyricists around the country. In short, members of the Dramatists Guild may receive unsold tickets on the day of a performance, free of charge.

Playwrights Welcome is a national ticketing initiative created by Samuel French along with Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing, Music Theatre International, Playscripts, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. It has been adopted by theaters in New York City including the Atlantic Theater Company, Roundabout Theatre Company, and Urban Stages; in California by Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, and La Jolla Playhouse; in Chicago by the Goodman Theater, Paramount Theatre, and Victory Gardens Theater; and by many more companies throughout the U.S.

Playwrights: Take advantage of this offer, contact on the day of a performance and ask if tickets are available. If they are, arrive at the show with your Dramatists Guild membership card as well as your ID. (Click here to learn more about becoming a Dramatists Guild member.) Note that this program is for Dramatists Guild members only, and does not cover a plus-one or any additional attendees.

Information on the program is available at:

Coverage of the program in The New York Times can be found at:

Playwrights Local is thrilled to be a part of this great resource for practicing dramatists!

Staged Reading: “Adulteryhood” by Greg A. Smith

Playwrights Local Presents

A Staged Reading of



A new play by Greg A. Smith
Directed by Anne McEvoy


Monday, July 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Creative Space at Waterloo Arts

397 E. 156th Street, Cleveland, OH 44110





“I like kissing you. You don’t taste bitter and resentful.”

Megan is married to Louis. Louis is having an affair with Gemma. Gemma is married to Hugh. Hugh is having an affair with Megan. And they’re all celebrating New Year’s together.

Adulteryhood is a new work-in-progress comedy about love, happiness, and that nagging itch that maybe, just maybe, there’s something better out there.



Tania Benites

Nicholas Chokan

James Rankin

Tiffany Trapnell

The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation – Grant

Playwrights Local is pleased to announce that it has received an operating support grant from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

This generous grant from the the Paul M. Angell Family 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 mission of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation is to advance society through the performing arts, conservation of the world’s oceans, and alleviation of poverty. The foundation was created in 2011 to honor Paul M. Angell, and strives to embody the legacy of his compassion, ingenuity and industriousness.

Learn more about the Foundation at

“Things as They Are” Livestream May 26

A live performance of our new play Things as They Are will be simulcast online via HowlRound TV at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 26.

Direct access to the livestream will be available at Following the performance, an archival video of the show will be posted at

HowlRound TV is a global, open source livestreaming network & commons for arts & culture. Stewarded . For more information, call Vijay Mathew at +(1) 917.686.3185 or email HowlRound TV is a component of HowlRound, an online knowledge commons by and for the theatre community. Much thanks to Vijay, Thea Rodgers, and everyone else on their staff!

Things as They Are is a meditation on American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), combining dramatic scenes, original compositions, and licensed works by Stevens himself with movement, commedia dell’arte, and projections. It was written by David Todd with music by Ben Chasny and direction by Anjanette Hall. For more info on the cast and creative team, see our show page at

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.

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

(1) 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)

(2) 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)

(3) 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.

“O/R” Among Land of Cleve’s Top Plays of 2016

Land of Cleve has given Objectively/Reasonable an Achievement Award for being among the Top Plays of 2016!

Thanks to Rich Stimac and Land of Cleve for this great honor. And thanks to everyone on our amazing creative team for making this production happen.

See the full list of awards at

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

(1) 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

(2) 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

(3) 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

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