Ensemble's Colombi Festival features new plays by local writers
Ensemble Theatre’s Colombi New Plays Festival may be a young tradition, but it is one that’s sure to become a local favorite. Dedicated to the memory of Christopher, Lucia, and Licia Colombi, all of whom were integral parts of the Cleveland theater community, the festival gives local playwrights an opportunity to stage their works for a local audience. The scripts are developed in Ensemble’s Stage Wrights workshops, which meet weekly.
The three plays in this year’s festival are all world premieres, and all written by talented local playwrights. The 2013 Colombi Festival opened March 1 with performances of 10-minute workshop plays about Cleveland and Ohio historical events.
Each of the “world premiere” performances will be presented on Ensemble’s main stage for one weekend—Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (The final performance of “Lizard” will be at 4 p.m.)
“One on One” by Ed Walsh and Robert Noll opens on Thursday, March 7. Directed by Skip Corbis, “One on One” features Devin Schleimer, Scott Miesse, Vern Morrison, Aaron D. Elersich, J'Vaughn T. Briscoe and David Holland.
The play, set in the 1970s, portrays a time when an invisible, but no less real, line divided white and black neighborhoods. On their side of this line, Shins and Tony, white high-school students, live and breathe basketball. Basketball scholarships could be their ticket to college. The same is true for Sunny, a black player who shows up at the outdoor court where Shins and Tony spend countless hours perfecting their game. By crossing the line, Sunny turns Shins’ and Tony’s world upside down. While trying to work through their differences, the three boys suffer terrible consequences which will affect them throughout their lives.
“Cocopelli: A Fairy Tale” by Stuart Hoffman opens on Saturday, March 14. Geoffrey Hoffman directs the play, which features Brian Pedaci, Tom Kondilas, Laurel Hoffman, Cathleen O'Malley, Rachel Lee Kolis and Joseph Milan.
After a life of excess, Cole, the Jazzman Barbarian, feels dried up, tired of the music, and sick of the fans and the attention. Before leaving town, he makes half-hearted attempts to make amends for the wrong he’s done to others and meets the one woman who might actually understand. Inspired by Kokopelli, fertility deity and prankster of Southwestern Native American folklore, and the early work and life of Gustav Flaubert, the play explores an artist at war with himself and oblivious to the good his art has given others.
“Lizard Play” opens on Friday March 21 with Carol Laursen (the playwright) and Anne McAvoy, directed by Celeste Cosentino. This is a modern fairy tale—full of love, loss, mindfulness . . . and a lizard, of course.
Tickets are $15 general admission for adults and seniors, and $10 for students with a valid ID. Buy tickets to all three productions and save—a three-show for $30. Call 216-321-2930 for tickets or go to www.ensemble-theatre.com.
In addition to the three world premiere productions, Ensemble Theatre is offering free play readings during the entire month of the Colombi New Plays Festival.
Readings of plays from Ensemble’s One Act plays workshop will be March 9, from 2 to 4 p.m., and March 10, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Ensemble Theatre invites the community to come out and support Cleveland playwrights. Additional readings of plays from Stage Wrights workshops will be posted on Ensemble’s website throughout March.
Jewel Moulthrop is a Cleveland Heights resident, a member of the FutureHeights Board of Directors, and chair of the Heights Observer's Editorial Advisory Committee.