Dobama previews 51st season
It was less than 24 hours after the lights went down on the extended run of the season’s biggest hit at Dobama. The set had already been struck, so you might think it would have been a good opportunity for the troupe to do a little resting on its laurels. Think again.
At a reception held at its Lee Road home on June 6, Dobama’s board members and directors talked with subscribers about what had been accomplished during the theater’s 50th season. They were equally eager to cast a spotlight on the plans for the 51st.
Board President Bill Newby recounted the long hours and hard work that took place last September to get Dobama’s new home ready for a full season. All available resources were put to work, and the smiles on subscriber faces told Newby it had all been worth it. The power of the press was abundantly clear, as rave reviews for Humble Boy led to full houses and an extended run.
Managing Director Diane Boduszek was pleased to announce plans for both new and ongoing programming at Dobama. Leading the way this summer is the 32nd-annual Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Playwriting Festival, inspiring the creation of plays by area 1st-through-12th graders. This year, festival judges received more than 300 manuscripts, from which 21 have earned awards, seven will be presented in showcase productions, and an additional three will be staged for more mature audiences in Night Kitchen productions.
The nurturing of local theatrical talent is also a key component of Dobama’s mission. Aspiring actors should take note of the Dobama Emerging Actors Program. Aimed at high school and undergraduate college students, this comprehensive month-long program focuses on acting technique, and culminates with performances for the public during the last week of July. Other ambitious plans include a Playwrights Gym to give emerging playwrights a chance to workshop their scripts with local directors; a new collaboration with Kent State University that will bring MFA students to the Dobama stage; and Late Night Productions, an effort to bring edgy plays to twenty-somethings during the season.
The sound you hear from the basement of 2340 Lee Road is the buzz of activity that it takes to secure Dobama’s place in the community for years to come. Artistic Director Joel Hammer plans to present plays and playwrights that are new and different. In fact, 98 percent of Dobama’s mainstage productions have been Cleveland, American or world premieres. That will continue during its 51st year with Enda Walsh's award-winning The Walworth Farce, Sarah Ruhl's captivating Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Paul Rudnick's outrageous comedy The New Century and Annie Baker's off-Broadway hit Circle Mirror Transformation. Arrangements for a fifth mainstage production are still in the works.
Boduszek announced that Dobama is the recipient of a Cuyahoga Arts and Culture general operating support grant, starting January 2011. Plus, Dobama is one of only four nonprofits selected to use the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture marketing database. Boduszek encourages season ticket holders to attend special subscriber nights for behind-the-scenes views of each play, insights into the art of acting, and talk-back sessions that explore the scripts in depth. Check www.dobama.org for scheduling updates and production notes.
Evan Komito, currently resides in Cleveland Heights after a 35-year hiatus on the east coast.