'Skeleton Crew' in Cleveland premiere at Dobama

Dobama Theatre will present the Cleveland premiere of the Obie Award-winning “Skeleton Crew,” Jan. 24 through Feb. 16. Part of Dominique Morisseau’s three-play cycle, “The Detroit Project,” Dobama’s production will be directed by Nina Domingue.

The play, which The New York Times called “a deeply moral and deeply American play . . . squarely in the tradition of Arthur Miller," is set in a struggling Detroit automotive plant during the peak of the 2008 recession. A few remaining workers are trying to figure out how to move forward if the plant goes under. Shanita has to decide how she'll support herself and her unborn child, Faye has to find a place to live, and Dez has to figure out how to make his ambitious dreams a reality. Power dynamics shift as their manager, Reggie, is torn between doing right by his work family and by his own. (The struggle is familiar to Clevelanders, with recent plant closures like that at Lordstown General Motors directly impacting the community.)

Morisseau’s plays have been produced all over Cleveland this past year, including at Cleveland Play House and Karamu House. Dobama, which produced her play "Sunset Baby” in September 2018, is proud to produce another of her works.

This past October, the playwright spoke at The City Club of Cleveland about using art as a tool for social change, staking the claim that art can draw attention to problems that we might believe have already been solved. “The plays I write, they become important, even when I think I’m writing about the past,” she said. “And I think that says more about society than it does about me."

Morisseau’s "The Detroit Project" comprises “Skeleton Crew,” “Paradise Blue,” and ”Detroit ’67.” She drew inspiration for all three plays from playwrights August Wilson and Pearl Clague, setting out to tell the stories of Black lives from impoverished post-industrial communities in a way that centers their humanity.

Growing up in Detroit, Morisseau has a special affinity for bringing those stories to life. “[Detroit is] what I know and for me it is about humanizing a people that have been dehumanized in our media and social narrative,” she stated. 

An alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop, Morisseau has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Playwrights Conference. She recently served as co-producer on the Showtime series “Shameless.”

Her many awards include two Obie awards, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017–18, and a MacArthur Genius Grant. She is also the Tony-nominated book writer for the new Broadway musical “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.”

Dobama’s production of “Skeleton Crew” features Lisa Louise Langford, Ananias J. Dixon, Mary-Francis Miller and Robert Hunter. 

Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 to $38, with senior, student and military discounts available.

On Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m., Dobama will offer a pay-as-you-can performance as part of its effort to remove economic barriers and make its productions accessible to everyone. Additionally, one hour prior to all performances, all remaining tickets will be available at the box office at the pay-what-you-can rate of $1 or more.

Call the Dobama box office at 216-932-3396 or visit www.dobama.org for more information or to purchase tickets.

Colin Anderson

Colin Anderson is the general manager of Dobama Theatre and a graduate of Oberlin College. His training is in directing and dramatic literature.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 11:07 AM, 01.03.2020