Synopses & Reviews
In the fall of 2011, the Cleveland Play House abandoned its former home of eighty-four years to establish a new presence within a downtown performing arts complex, providing a feeling of renewal and rebirth that the theatre has not experienced in decades. With its new facility and its upcoming centenary anniversary, the history of the legendary theatre serves as a springboard to discuss how the Cleveland Play House mirrored the achievements and struggles of both the city of Cleveland and the American theatre over the past one hundred years. This book challenges the established history (often put forward by the theatre itself) and long-held assumptions concerning the creation of the institution and its legacy. Utilizing new research (including access to the once-restricted Cleveland Play House archives), Ullom tells the compelling story of how this celebrated institution was founded and how it, and American theatre at large, has managed to survive and even thrive.
This history of the Cleveland Playhouse was spurred when the author,Jeffrey Ullom, discovered that the Playhouse archives were vast and largely untapped. At the same time, the Playhouse had committed tomoving from its longstanding location to one 71 blocks away at a time when its financial situation was problematic. He states "thiswas a theatre without a defined past or a guaranteed future." Two other collections documenting the history of the theatre's productionexist. Ullom's focus is, instead, on the decisions of its leadership and how its changes have echoed the development and struggles ofCleveland itself. One issue the theater struggled with for decades was the validation of its artistic mission in conjunction with thegrowing populist tastes of its patrons. This struggle was going on during the rise of unions, World War II, and racial tensions. In anexample of the extent of the disconnect between the theatre and its neighborhood community, in the 1966 Hough race riots the theatreSuperintendent Elijah Ford stood on the roof of the theatre with a shotgun. The theatre's financial future in its new location in the downtown arts district remains uncertain.Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
About the Author
Jeffrey Ullom is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre at Case Western Reserve University, USA. He is the author of The Humana Festival and his work has been published internationally in numerous journals.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Building the House
2. Averting Disaster and Ignoring Cleveland
3. Learning Curve
4. "Catch These Vandals!"
5. The War at Home
6. Escaping "No Man's Land"
7. The 'Endangered' Theatre
8. A Place to Call Home
Conclusion: The New "No Man's Land"