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Cleveland Play House announces new works for New Ground Theatre Festival

By Norwalk Reflector Staff • Mar 17, 2018 at 2:00 PM

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Play House (CPH) has announced the inspiring works for the 13th annual New Ground Theatre Festival (NGTF).

The festival provides the opportunity for playwrights to develop and showcase their work, while offering Cleveland audiences the opportunity to see these remarkable new plays come to life. The events will run from May 11 through 19.

This year’s festival will feature “Hi, Are You Single?,” about the highs and lows of navigating the gay dating scene with cerebral palsy, written and performed by Parma, native Ryan Haddad.

“This year's festival will bring diverse, thrilling, and unexpected stories to light,” said Laura Kepley, CPH artistic director who is leading the festival.   

“Ryan Haddad is an utterly charming storyteller who will have audiences howling with laughter one minute and wiping away tears the next. It’s wonderful to welcome him back to his hometown and get his perspective on the dating scene both locally and across the country.”

NGTF also will include “The Nolan Williams Project,” where the incredible 100-year history of a family-owned soul-food establishment is uncovered when a real estate developer attempts to buy them out. It is written and composed by Nolan Williams Jr., an acclaimed voice in musical theater, with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Nikkole Salter.

“Those who were lucky enough to hear Nolan Williams' incredible score during NGTF 2017  — and those who didn't — won't want to miss this year as his music combines with a hot off the presses script by one of the most captivating playwrights of our time, Nikkole Salter. And of course we will soon be announcing this year's Roe Green award-winning playwright who will be in residence to develop a new play. Spring at CPH is the time for planting seeds of new projects and delighting in watching other work bloom,” Kepley said.

Robert Barry Fleming, the CPH associate artistic director, is directing “The Nolan Williams Project.”

“NGTF is place where relationships are created, conversations sparked, and where we aspire to inspire empathy with visceral and mind-expanding entertainment,” he said.

Also debuting during the festival will be the world premiere of “The Starkweather-South High School Physics Club First Annual End-of-Year-Lock-In, or Ghost Party” by Diana Grisanti. The piece was commissioned by CPH and will be performed by members of the inaugural CPH Theatre Academy Teen Performance Ensemble, for ages 13 through 17. It will be performed May 12 and 13 at the Allen Theatre.

When their annual end-of-year trip to Cedar Point is cancelled for mysterious reasons, the six teens of the Starkweather-South High School Physics Club settle for an overnight lock-in at their school. But, this seemingly lame sleepover soon morphs into a night to remember. Friendships are tested, secrets are revealed and spontaneous dance parties emerge. And, the school’s resident ghost roams the halls. This brand new comedic-drama is about the bonds of friendship and having the courage to be yourself.

The New Ground Theatre Festival wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of honorary producer Roe Green. NGTF will include the seventh annual Roe Green Award, which enables CPH to bring a leading American playwright to Cleveland to develop a new play, including a free conversation with the playwright, and a public reading of the script. This year’s recipient of the Roe Green Award will be announced at a later date.

The festival will be performed in the Cleveland Play House home theaters at Playhouse Square. Ticket prices range from $10 to $20 and will be available at clevelandplayhouse.com or by calling 216-241-6000 for purchase March 15.

The Cleveland Play House, founded in 1915 and the recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.



2018 New Ground Theatre Festival productions/readings: 

• “Hi, Are You Single?” — Written and performed by Ryan J. Haddad; directed by Laura Savia; 7:30 p.m. May 17- 19; The Helen

• “The Nolan Williams Project” — Book by Nikkole Salter, original story, lyrics and music by Nolan Williams Jr.; directed by Robert Barry Fleming; 5 p.m. May 19 at the Allen Theatre 

New Ground Theatre Festival schedule:

May 11

7:30 p.m. “The Royale”

May 12

2:30 and 7:30 p.m. “The Royale”

7:30 “The Starkweather-South High School Physics Club First Annual End-of-Year-Lock-In, or Ghost Party”

May 13

2 p.m. “The Starkweather-South High School Physics Club First Annual End-of-Year-Lock-In, or Ghost Party”

2:30 p.m. “The Royale” with talkback

May 15

7 p.m. “The Royale” with talkback

May 16

7:30 p.m. “The Royale”

May 17

7:30 p.m. “The Royale”;  “Hi, Are You Single?” with talkback

May 18

7:30 p.m. “The Royale”; “Hi, Are You Single?” with talkback

May 19

Time TBD: Roe Green Award reading with playwright Q&A

2:30 p.m. “The Royale”

5 “The Nolan Williams Project”

7:30 “The Royale”; “Hi, Are You Single?” with talkback

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