Ensemble prepares for 2018 Colombi New Plays Festival

Ensemble Theatre will host its seventh annual Colombi New Plays Festival this month, showcasing new works by local playwrights. Among this year’s festival highlights is "Mama/Moon," a new work by Cleveland Heights playwright Tom Frattare.

“Mama” and “Moon” in the title refer to Mama Cass Elliot of The Mamas & The Papas, an immensely popular folk rock group of the late 1960s, and Keith Moon, the innovative and wildly eccentric and erratic drummer of the Who. Both died at age 32.

Frattare said the impetus for his play was the rash of talented artists dying at a young age—Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and others. “It's a play about sex, drugs and rock and roll,” Frattare said. “But it’s also about the whirlwind of celebrity, and the all-too-often side effects of loneliness and addiction on the road to redemption.”

The Colombi New Plays Festival is named for Ensemble Theatre’s founder, Lucia Colombi, whose daughter, Celeste Cosentino, took over as executive artistic director of the theater when Colombi died in 2009.

Many plays in this year’s festival represent the culmination of a year’s worth of work for the many local writers who attend Ensemble’s StageWrights workshop. Curated by Ensemble’s associate artistic director, StageWrights is an open-door, free workshop held on Wednesdays in the former Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd., in Cleveland Heights.

“StageWrights is a great way for Ensemble to encourage and support the creation of new work in our community,” Cosentino said. “With all the members who have come and gone over the years, they’ve all really bonded and worked together to keep the tradition of new play development at Ensemble alive.”

Festival events, including readings and workshops, will be held at Ensemble and at select locations throughout Northeast Ohio. StageWrights has already officially kicked off the festival season with a StageWrights Showcase, in which the writers were given a prompt—Journey—and wrote short plays that then had staged readings.

All readings and events surrounding the production of "Mama/Moon" are free and open to the public. The play opens on March 9 and runs through March 25.

For more information, a schedule of events, and tickets, go to www.EnsembleTheatreCLE.org, e-mail info@ensemble-theatre.org, or call 216-321-2930.

Tyler Whidden

Tyler Whidden is a playwright and associate artistic director at Ensemble Theatre. He also co-hosts the Cleveland Stage Podcast.

Read More on A & E News
Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 1:02 PM, 03.02.2018