Theatre Department Plays for 2018-2019

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Directed by Sarah May
Production Dates: November 15-17, 2018

From the playwrights behind Inherit the Wind we proudly present The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. This drama, written in 1969, opens with Thoreau in jail for refusing to pay taxes to a government conducting a war of aggression in Mexico, at midpoint shows Ralph Waldo Emerson visiting him, and ends on the morning of his release. Scenes portray his return from Harvard where he idolized Emerson, his attempt to establish a transcendentalist school, his career as a handyman and tutor in Emerson’s household, and his romance and his friendship with an illiterate cellmate. The end is a grotesque dream in which the characters take up guises in a mortal assault on Mexico. Writing in The New York Times, Howard Taubman described the ideological relevance of the play to contemporary audiences, stating “this play and its protagonist, though they are of the 19th century, are speaking to today’s concerns: an unwanted war in another land, civil disobedience, the interdependence of man and nature, education, the role of government and the governed.”

Robert E. Lee (1918 – 1994) was an American playwright and lyricist. With his writing partner, Jerome Lawrence, Lee worked for Armed Forces Radio during World War II; Lawrence and Lee became the most prolific writing partnership in radio, with such long-running series as Favorite Story among others.

Jerome Lawrence (1915 – 2004) was an American playwright and author. After graduating from Ohio State University in 1937 and the University of California, Los Angeles in 1939, Lawrence partnered with Robert E. Lee to help create Armed Forces Radio.

Lawrence and Lee won acclaim for the 1955 screenplay Inherit the Wind, based on the Scopes Trial. The two deliberately avoided Broadway later in their careers and formed the American Playwrights Theater in 1963 to help promote their plays.

Sarah May (Director) is thrilled to be making her LCCC debut with this 2018 fall production!

Sarah’s work as a director is well known around Northeast Ohio where she has been a guest artist at many area theatres and colleges.  Most recently she directed the timely comedy Rasheeda Speaking at Karamu Theatre, Terrance McNally’s Mother’s and Sons at Beck Center, the one-man drama Thurgood (Scene Magazine’s Best Actor Award for Greg White) at Ensemble Theatre, and Life with Father (Best Show of the Season) at Weathervane Playhouse in Akron.

Other favorite productions include The Pitman Painters, 33 Variations, Race,  History Boys, Wings (starring Dorothy Silver), The Diary of Anne Frank, and A Piece of My Heart (Winner of the Northern Ohio Live Award of Achievement) all for The Beck Center; The Normal Heart (winner of the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Play and Best Director), Dividing the Estate and Having Our Say for Ensemble Theatre;  Six Degrees of Separation for Charenton Theatre; Tuck Everlasting for Cleveland Play House,  the  Dobama/Karamu collaborations of Caroline or ChangeFires in the MirrorGrapes of Wrath, and My Children! My Africa!;  Things of Dry Hours for CPT; Side By Side By Sondheim at French Creek/TruNorth Theatre; and The Wiz for The Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s All-City Musical.

Sarah began her career at the Cleveland Play House, Karamu Theatre, and Cain Park. She spent 10 years in New York City performing, directing, and developing educational theatre programs for Playwrights Horizons, The Henry Street Settlement, and The Roundabout Theatre. She returned to Cleveland in 1984 to serve as Director of Education for Great Lakes Theatre Festival where she developed their ongoing Shakespeare School Residency Program. She served as Artistic Director of Karamu Theatre from 1990 to 1997. Sarah has taught acting for Cleveland Play House and Tri-C Metro and been a guest director at Lakeland College and Baldwin-Wallace University. She continues to work with children at the Intergenerational School and serves as Artistic Advisor to Ensemble Theatre.

 

Six Characters in Search of an Author

By Luigi Pirandello

Directed by Stephanie Wilbert

Production Dates: April 25-27, 2019

Six Characters in Search of an Author is an absurdist metatheatrical play about the relationship among authors, their characters, and theatre practitioners. It was written and first performed in 1921, premiering at the Teatro Valle in Rome to a mixed reception, with shouts from the audience of “Manicomio!” (“Madhouse!”) and “Incommensurabile!” (“Incommensurable!”), a reaction to the play’s illogical progression. Reception improved at subsequent performances, especially after Pirandello provided for the play’s third edition, published in 1925, a foreword clarifying its structure and ideas. The play had its American premiere in 1922 on Broadway at the Princess Theatre and was performed for over a year off-Broadway at the Martinique Theatre beginning in 1963.

Luigi Pirandello (1867 – 1936) was an Italian dramatist, novelist, poet, and short story writer. He was awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature. Pirandello’s works include novels, hundreds of short stories, and about 40 plays. Pirandello’s tragic farces are often seen as forerunners of the Theatre of the Absurd.

Stephanie Wilbert (Director) is an Actor, Voice and Movement Specialist, and Artistic Director of The Illusion Factory in Akron, Ohio. She received her MFA in Theater: Contemporary Performance from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado where she primarily focused on ensemble-based performance and devised theater techniques under the mentorship of Wendall Beavers. Naropa University performance credits include Sirens Fury PlaylistNow! (For Something Completely Different), and 7/21 (Directed by member of The Tectonic Theater Project, Greg Pierotti). Stephanie is an Actors Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) and received her BA in Theater Arts from Cleveland State University. In Northeastern Ohio, Stephanie has performed with The Ohio City Theater Project, Talespinner Children’s Theater, Cleveland Public Theater, and The Cleveland Ingenuity Festival.