From the Artistic Director: THE NETHER

Over the course of the past century, technological advancements have created a monumental shift in the daily lives of human beings. The internet, GPS, smartphones, medical innovations, artificial intelligence and are helping us live longer and be more productive. But they have also brought questions about what effects this technological evolution has had on humanity.

These new ways in which we interact with the world around us are having a profound social and cultural impact on society. The idea of accelerating change contends that technological advancement will continue to increase exponentially, with each previous advancement making it possible for the next advancement to come more quickly than the last. With the ways we communicate and interact with each other changing at an increasingly rapid rate, can the human psyche keep up?

Playwright Jennifer Haley specializes in writing about the ethics of technology. In The Nether, Ms. Haley traces many of these ideas to their furthest conclusion. What happens when we are able to completely immerse ourselves in a world without consequences? Is it accurate to say that there are no consequences in a virtual world? What is the danger in indulging unethical thoughts and instincts rather than resisting them? Is it ethical to pursue the “lesser of two evils” by allowing immoral behavior, but relegating it to a virtual realm in the interest of the greater good? And if all of one’s senses are being activated, can that virtual reality actually be considered “real”?

These are just some of the many questions being explored in The Nether. As is the case with many great pieces of theatre, and certainly many plays that have been produced on Dobama’s stage over the year, many of these questions are left to ponder.

We hope you find The Nether as fascinating as we do. Be on the look-out for many exciting announcements around our upcoming 60th Anniversary and a truly incredible lineup of new plays –I think it will be the best season so far in my time at Dobama Theatre. Thank you for your ongoing support of new work and live, professional theatre.

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN.

When Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 premiered in 1979, it arrived with great controversy. The play drew connections between colonialism and sexual oppression while using profanity and provocative depictions of sexuality. Its incongruity was both humorous and disquieting. Almost twenty years later, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues explored body image, rape, genital mutilation, sex work, and a variety of sexual experiences. The play was, and is, the subject of much debate, though The New York Times called the play "probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade." Then, in 2008, Sarah Kane’s masterpiece Blasted made its New York debut to great acclaim for script and writer; thirteen years earlier, it was skewered as a “disgusting feast of filth” by critics in response to the play’s premiere. All three plays began as exceedingly controversial and ended as part of the canon of English-language plays of the past half-century.

Now, ten years after Blasted arrived in New York, twenty years after The Vagina Monologues, and forty years after Cloud 9, Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is the latest in a long line of groundbreaking plays written by women to address sexism, misogyny, and the patriarchy in provocative and uncompromising ways.

While developing the play at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Ms. Birch was given the prompt to write something inspired by the quote “well-behaved women rarely make history.” Her response is a theatrical manifesto that pulls no punches in its language, form, and content. A hit in London, this play is of the moment - a time when movements like #MeToo, Time’s Up, and the Women’s March are working to expose long-ignored truths about oppression, harassment, and assault. Dobama Theatre is proud to begin 2019 with Alice Birch’s hilarious and disturbing play. We invite you to listen, respond, and join the revolution.

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: ELLA ENCHANTED

Everyone in America has had some exposure to Cinderella growing up. Most of us accepted the story at face value - a young woman forced to keep house for her evil stepfamily before being rescued by her prince. But do we ever stop to think about what the story’s saying or question the narrative? Why would anyone stay to clean and be verbally abused by her stepmother when she could just get up and leave? How would marrying a man she’s only known a few hours and who is content to find his bride using footwear that was left behind instead of, you know, having a conversation with young ladies from his kingdom be considered a happy ending for Cinderella? Gail Carson Levine’s Newbery Honor book ELLA ENCHANTED as we as by Karen Zacarías’ play adaptation by the same name addresses these inconsistencies.

Ella, like women throughout history, is cursed with obedience. Rather than accept her fate, she resists and goes on a journey of self-discovery to break the spell. Along the way she forms relationships based on mutual respect with the many people she encounters. She overcomes obstacles and outwits those who wish to do her harm. She is heroic, turning bad situations into opportunities. Ella is determined, intelligent, resourceful, brave, and even a bit flawed. Now that’s a “Cinderella” for today’s world - a story we can tell with confidence, joy, and pride to our children.

I hope you enjoy this extraordinary production, one of the first in the country, featuring a superb creative team and a stellar ensemble of actors. We hope we’re able to bring a little magic into your life during this special time of year. We’re grateful that your family could spend a little of this holiday season with us. Enjoy the magic of ELLA ENCHANTED!

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: JOHN

What does it mean to be haunted?

Haunted can refer to a place where a spirit resides. Haunted can mean showing signs of mental anguish. Or haunted can mean “persistently in the mind of someone”. All these definitions and more are applicable in Annie Baker’s John.

The spirits present in John are the watchers. The watchers are many in this puzzle of a play. They include the spectres of those that remain unseen in the little Bed and Breakfast with secrets of its own, the ghosts of previous relationships, the tchotchkes that sit staring from all over the house, a force greater than ourselves observing from afar, and even the very audience itself. At the heart of the play are yet two more watchers - two older women who witness a young couple struggling to overcome their problems.

John is a haunting play in more ways than one. The poltergeists that emerge come not from ghosts or apparitions, but from the demons haunting each character as they struggle to connect with those they love. Ms. Baker uses this haunted house to unearth many of life’s great questions without trying to provide any answers.

I believe the secret to fully appreciating this masterpiece is to simply become a watcher. Resist the urge to “figure it out” or to put it in a neat little box like a doll on a shelf. Rather, I’d invite you to simply observe and let the characters, environment, and the ideas wash over you. Immerse yourself in the world that Annie Baker and Dobama’s talented theatre artists have created. In the end, you may find that the play’s characters, images, sounds, and provocations will possess you long after the final curtain.

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: SUNSET BABY

“When I know I can bring value, dignity, integrity, honor, passion, fight, and humor to a story because I understand its world or its people, I am usually all in.” – Dominique Morisseau

For me, the quote above is at the heart of SUNSET BABY. This is a play that, on the surface, is about a couple of drug dealers and a convicted felon, yet it quickly reveals itself to be the story of a family of fighters who have overcome great obstacles and made great sacrifices to survive and to be in a position to make a better life for themselves.

Dominique Morisseau is one of the most exciting playwrights in America today. A native of Detroit, Ms. Morisseau tells stories that historically have not been told on stage, and yet reflect the world for so many people in our nation – particularly here in the cities of the rustbelt. She continues in the tradition of writers like Langston Hughes and August Wilson, yet breaks new ground through the themes she tackles and the visceral voice she gives to her characters. Ms. Morisseau is a master of dialogue, and SUNSET BABY (like many of her other works) is a language play, full of prose that illuminates both the plight of her characters and a greater meaning for her audience.

While some things have improved in American since the time of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s, much remains unchanged – the criminal justice system, cycle of poverty, and institutional racism (just to name a few.) Morisseau has said, about much of the art being created today, "We are all writing about the themes of love and power and power struggle and economics." If things in our world are going to change, and if we are going to be a country that reflects the angels of our better nature, it will start with listening to each other. SUNSET BABY allows us the privilege of listening to Nina, Damon, and Kenyatta so that in that listening, we might find more empathy and a better understanding.

We hope you enjoy SUNSET BABY, the opening production of Dobama’s 59th Season. We look forward to welcoming you back throughout the year as we champion the work of six extraordinary playwrights. We are grateful for your ongoing support. Please do us the honor of helping us continue our important mission by spreading the word about Dobama – Cleveland Off-Broadway Theatre.

With Love & Respect,


18/19 Brochure AD Notes

Integrity drives all the work we do at Dobama Theatre. It is something we take into account in everything from season selection to the curtain calls. Artistic, professional, and ethical integrity are at the center of every decision.

Dobama has always had the courage to take risks in the plays we produce. They may not always ensure box o ce success, but we bring important new plays to our stage – plays that reflect the community we serve and that tell stories that are urgent and relevant to the world we live in today.

Dobama has made a commitment to professionalism and we put in the time, effort, care, and resources it takes to live up to our commitment. Dobama values quality over quantity. Before we add programming or productions, we make sure that it aligns with our mission, that it will be executed up to our artistic standards, and that we can fairly compensate the artists involved.

This season we offer six incredible plays by six extraordinary women. These award-winning writers are Black, Latinx, and White. They hail from Detroit, Boston, D.C., San Diego, London, San Antonio, and New York. These plays tell the stories of strong, central female characters and are diverse in genre, style, scope, and theme.

At this moment in time, where isolationism, echo chambers, racial and sexual violence, mass shootings, inequality, and misinformation are as visible as ever, theatre can break down walls and start conversations. In the era of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #TimesUp, art can be a living hashtag – something that connects and informs members of our community face-to-face. So it is vital that we are intentional in the work we do. This includes the spotlighting of women playwrights this season, doing collaborative work for the protection of theatre artists, and pursuing purposeful social justice work as a theatre community.

As we head into our 59th Season, we’re dreaming big. We have plans for dynamic growth in our facility, our programs, and our capacity to serve the Greater Cleveland community. But you can be sure that, in all we do, Dobama will be true to our mission of producing thought-provoking, relevant, and illuminating new plays for our shared community.


With Love & Respect,

Nathan Motta
Artistic Director, Dobama Theatre

From the Artistic Director: ON THE GRILL

When I visited Tel Aviv in December 2016 I was struck by the beauty of the city, the friendliness and diversity of the people, and amazing art institutions and offerings in the life of this cultural center. I was also very aware of the history of the city, past and present, as Israeli soldiers walked among us along city streets, young people who were doing their duty for Israel. It was natural to compare my American experience with what I was experiencing there. Many thing about the city felt familiar, yet there was the ongoing understanding that we were in a conflict area and that the young soldiers walking by were not volunteers or recruited, but the latest in what was likely a long line of family members conscripted to serve their country.  

I saw the original production of ON THE GRILL at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. The Cameri feels like the Lincoln Center of Israel with multiple theatres in an impressive complex. Large groups of audience members flood the main lobby headed in different directions to see shows. I was impressed with the overwhelming support and sheet numbers of people there to see theatre – people of all ages and walks of life filing into theatres to experience something together.

I found that my experience as an American in Israel was encapsulated in ON THE GRILL. So much of the world of the play seemed familiar – a backyard barbeque on Independence Day, little squabbles, loving families, songs played on guitar to sing along to, and friends stopping by. Yet there was the other reality of an Israeli family that I got to experience. The reality of multiple generations who had served in combat, a military zone within a relatively short distance from their home, fighter jets breaking the sound barrier overhead, political disagreements having immediate impact on everyone’s lives, and the effects of war lingering long after a soldier’s service is done. And I got to experience this story sitting among people who were living it. I wanted our community here in Cleveland to have this experience. And so, Dobama Theatre is honored to produce the American Premiere of this fantastic play.

We hope you enjoy ON THE GRILL. Dobama Theatre is grateful to the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland for their generous support of this special summer event. Visit to read about our exciting, newly announced 18/19 season or to learn more about Dobama Theatre – Cleveland’s Professional Off-Broadway Theatre.

From the Artistic Director: APPROPRIATE

The “family drama” is a hallmark of the American Theatre. We think of plays like DEATH OF A SALESMAN, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY as masterpieces of the family drama genre. However, when plays like A RAISIN IN THE SUN, FAMILIAR, TOPDOG/ UNDERDOG and the plays of August Wilson (all of which are stories of family) are talked about they are generally referred to as plays dealing with race. In the white “family dramas” listed above, race is as much of an issue as it is in the plays of August Wilson. So why are plays written about people of color, by people of color “race plays” and those by white writers seen as family dramas? The answer lies in white privilege. America does not treat whiteness as a race. White is treated as the default – the norm. This is one major aspect of white privilege: white people don’t have think about race.

In APPROPRIATE playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins appropriates the genre of the white family drama to make whiteness racially visible at all times. He makes blackness and the violence done to people of color visible without a black or brown person appearing on stage. The environment of the plantation and the family home as a character take on profound allegorical meaning in this script that asks important questions and makes us confront the dark past that lies in the soil of America’s past and that taints America’s present. What might have been deemed inappropriate for discussion in decades past, now is a conversation that must be had.

We hope you enjoy this extraordinary production and look forward to welcoming you back to Dobama very soon. This summer we’re excited to be producing the American Premiere of ON THE GRILL, winner of the Israeli Academy Award for Best Play and featuring Dorothy Silver. Be sure to check out our newly announced line-up of plays for our 18/19 Season and consider becoming a member or donor. There has never been a better time to be a part of Dobama – Cleveland’s Off-Broadway Theatre.

From the Artistic Director: THE EFFECT

At its best, theatre examines, explores, and comments on the human experience. So, as human beings, how to we experience the world? Everything we touch, taste, hear, think, feel, and express comes from one central place – the brain. Our personality, decision-making, EVERYTHING comes from that command center in our skull. To think of it so medically seems almost de-humanizing. Yet the result of our brain’s function, triggers our body’s physical responses. These biological reactions are manifested in feelings that we have come to call love, anger, sadness, etc. So, if our brain is compromised, can we trust what we’re thinking? Can we believe what we’re feeling? This question is at the crux of Lucy Prebble’s superb new play THE EFFECT.

Lucy Prebble is a brilliant playwright who’s writing is that rare combination of cerebral and personal. She writes about extremely complex subjects through stories that are imbued with great humanity and compassion. THE EFFECT is an extraordinary piece of theatre. The script is intelligent, sensual, heartbreaking, and beautiful. The dynamics at work between the two couples examined in this play are constantly shifting, giving the audience an experience filled with both suspense and sympathy. The story is both incredibly thought-provoking and exceptionally moving. You care deeply about the characters you meet and still, on the ride home, you very well may be asking yourself questions about what effects how you experience the world.

We hope you enjoy Dobama Theatre’s production of THE EFFECT. This fifth show in our 17/18 season is another unique experience as our audience surrounds the action in this medical theatre we’ve created. Stay tuned for the announcement of our 18/19 Season on April 7th and make your plans for the epic closing production to 58th season, APPROPRIATE, which opens April 20th. As always, thank you for supporting the performing arts and for being a part of Dobama – Cleveland’s Off-Broadway Theatre.


From the Artistic Director: GROUNDED

Even from the opening few pages of GROUNDED, I loved it. Dating back to high school, I have always been enamored with epic poetry, and this was right in my wheelhouse. From The Iliad, to The Odyssey, to Paradise Lost this genre of writing is beautiful, expressive, urgent, timeless, majestic or… well… epic. Over coffee a number of years ago, I told playwright George Brant how much I’d love to produce this play (this is one of the great luxuries of having this nationally celebrated playwright living just down the street.) I was interested in producing this script as far back as 2013 but, for a variety of reasons, the opportunity didn’t present itself until now. It was worth the wait.

GROUNDED was one of the first scripts to tackle the issue of drone use by the American military. This subject matter tends to open up a series of much bigger questions for audiences, questions that extend well beyond the issue of drones. The beauty of the play is that it examines this topic through an immensely human story. Over the course of the play, we truly get to know The Pilot who, while nameless to us, becomes someone we recognize in our lives and in ourselves. The brilliance of the play is that all of this is achieved almost entirely through text. It does not need crazy set changes, overt projections, or spectacle (though the script certainly could be interpreted by some directors to include these elements to support the text). Yet the writing is so stellar that this play requires nothing more than a gifted and diligent actor to deliver the text and an audience to receive it.

We hope you enjoy this performance of GROUNDED. With a superlative creative team, this is a production that we are very proud of as we continue Dobama’s dynamic 17/18 season. Thank you for your continued support of live, professional theatre.

With Love & Respect,




Eric Coble is one of a few friends and colleagues in the Cleveland theatre community that I have a standing coffee meeting with about every month or two. The main purpose of the meeting is just to catch up on what each of us are working on, trade thoughts on current “goings on”, and generally talk about ways that we might find collaborative projects moving forward.

At one such meeting we were discussing both some new work by Eric and some plays I was considering for the 17/18 season. Then I confessed to Eric that my biggest whole to fill was a high-quality play that would be fun for families around the holiday season. A lightbulb went off and Eric said something to effect of “Actually, I do have this one play…”. He described an adventure that was commissioned by First Stage (a professional theatre in Milwaukee) and that centered around a group of street kids that solve a crime for Sherlock Holmes and has some things to say about family and self-worth. He sent the play that afternoon, I read it that evening, and by the next morning I emailed Eric and said “We may have our holiday show!”

SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS (adapted from a series of beautiful graphic novels) imagines further adventures of a group of youngsters that appear in a few of the Sir Authur Conan Doyle stories. It’s fun, fast-paced, and a chance for the younger members of the Greater Cleveland community to experience the magic of a Dobama Theatre production. The play also examines what it means to be a family and that, while there are people in the world that judge others based on a person’s class, age, or gender, we should all have confidence in who we are and support each other no matter where we come from or the obstacles we face.

We are thrilled to welcome so many families to Dobama for this exciting production. Our young audience members should be sure to check out information on our Marilyn Bianchi Kids’ Playwriting Festival, now in its 40th year! As 2017 comes to a close, please consider a gift to help support Dobama Cleveland’s professional Off Broadway Theatre. And finally, we wish you a happy, healthy, restful, and joyous holiday season. Now sit back, relax, and get ready because the game’s afoot!

From the Artistic Director: MARJORIE PRIME

“I knew that I had a play in me about artificial intelligence, but I don’t think I knew how to approach it until I read Brian Christian’s wonderful book, The Most Human Human, and encountered this idea that artificial intelligence keeps getting better at imitating things that humans do, so what are the things that we do that A.I. can’t do yet; how can we continue to be better at those things than computers are? It’s not about hobbling the computers, it’s about bettering ourselves. How can we be more human humans? That is the fundamental question of his book, and possibly the fundamental question of the play too.” – Jordan Harrison, playwright, MARJORIE PRIME

The most fundamental thing that theatre - and perhaps all art - does is reflect the human experience. Theatre examines relationships, feeling, conflict, society, morality, and more. So, in a world where computers are capable of so much, and people are more connected (at least virtually) than ever before, what makes us human? Is it our mind? Our thoughts? Our memories? Artificial intelligence, even in 2017, is capable of recording information (memories) as well as synthesizing information and drawing conclusions (thoughts). So, what’s makes a human being human?

That is what is explored in Jordan Harrison’s brilliant, award-winning play MARJORIE PRIME. The relationships, the feeling, the heartache, the humor – all these qualities emerge and are stripped away to help explore the question of what make us alive. The “prime” in the title refers to the mathematical term. When using variables, you have ‘x’ and then you have ‘x prime’ – something related to ‘x’ and alike, but not exactly the same. Can you quantify the difference between the human mind and the “prime” - a computer programmed to collect and engage in human memories?

Dorothy Silver returns to the Dobama stage as Marjorie, a role she helped create in a workshop and reading of Jordan Harrison’s script while it was being developed at the Cleveland Play House back in 2013 as the “Roe Green Award Winner” during their New Ground Theatre Festival. We are honored to produce the regional premiere of this play. Of course, any performance by the first lady of Cleveland theatre is noteworthy, but the chance to bring this script (a Pulitzer Prize finalist) to the Dobama stage with Dorothy in the title role was an opportunity that could not be missed.

We hope you enjoy this incredible production with Dobama favorite Shannon Sindelar at the helm. Make your plans soon for our holiday production of Eric Coble’s SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS – it’s an adventure for the entire family. Finally, thank you for your ongoing support of Dobama and for helping spread the word about Cleveland’s professional Off Broadway theatre.

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: "brownsville song (b-side for tray)"

There’s a rhythm to life. It comes from many places - the beating of a heart when someone sees someone they love, the bounce in someone’s step when motivated in their work, the quickening of someone’s breath when they are saddened, the twitching of someone’s muscles when they are frightened, or the pattern of the spoken word when someone tells of an experience that has moved them. There’s a rhythm to life. But, when that beat is stopped short, long before it should end, the silence is deafening.

brownsville song (b-side for tray) is about the rhythms and the silence, but more about the rhythm – about life. While Tray’s story rightfully might make us examine gun violence, gang activity, poverty, politics, and much more, we also get a chance to meet a beautiful young man living in an environment that is seldom illuminated onstage and yet exists all around us in our city and every city. Perhaps Tray’s story, and that of his family, may help us make a new connection, and a new investment in the many “Trays” that are joyfully walking through life determined and motivated, despite circumstances that constantly throw so many obstacles in their way.

Dobama Theatre is proud to open the 17/18 Season with Kimber Lee’s brownsville song (b-side for tray). This is the first in a season full of stories that will make you think, feel, and engage in the world in new ways. We are grateful, as always, for your support in making theatre possible and for joining us on this new season “Between the Lines”.

With Love & Respect,


Between the Lines

Lines are everything in the theatre. But, lines extend far beyond the lines written in a script to be memorized by players who strut and fret upon the stage. Lines are everywhere. Lines of ink make up set design plans and taped out lines on rehearsal floors represent worlds that will be built, painted, and dressed for a production. Hundreds of lines of cables run over our heads and beneath our feet, carrying power and sound to lights and speakers. Lines of thread hold costumes together and lines of communication keep stage management and staff in touch to keep every show running smoothly. Yet, perhaps my favorite times in the production process is during table work when cast and creative team sit down to analyze and discuss the text – it’s the part of the rehearsal period when we struggle and strive to read between the lines.

Dobama Theatre is proud to present its dynamic 17/18 Season. This year will feature a lineup of six Mainstage plays that push the envelope and extend the lines of our thinking to look at the world in new ways. Dobama will continue to nurture collaborations with various theatres and organizations in our region to help protect our future and to grow the lines of our reach further into Greater Cleveland and beyond. This season Dobama also continues all programming, including the Playwrights’ GYM, the Dobama Emerging Actors Program, and celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Marilyn Bianchi Kids’ Playwriting Festival. As always, thank you for your support of Dobama and the entire community it serves. We look forward to another year of thrilling new plays that force us all to read between the lines.

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: HOW TO BE A RESPECTABLE JUNKIE

Sometimes it sucks to be right.

Greg Vovos had been writing about heroin addiction for a number of years. In that time, he had made many contacts, heard many stories, and made many friends whose lives had been impacted by addiction. But one person’s story stood out. So, in the summer of 2014 when I asked our Playwrights’ GYM members to write pieces based on the story of someone from an underserved community, this friend of Greg’s became the basis for what became HOW TO BE A RESPECTABLE JUNKIE.

As Greg shared early drafts of the play, I saw a strong piece of theatre emerging. Then, when Christopher Bohan lent his interpretation to Greg’s text, it was evident that we had the start of something special. After one performance, I spoke with Greg and Chris about my interest in mounting a full production of the play. One of the last things said in that initial conversation was, “The way things are going, this story will be even more important to tell in the years to come.” Boy, were we right.

And sometimes it sucks to be right.

Over the following year, as Greg was doing rewrites, article after article and statistic after statistic kept popping up about the rapid growth of the opioid epidemic in the United States – and Ohio was the epicenter. This crisis was touching everyone. With every passing day we became more convinced that our work on this production was becoming more vital. HOW TO BE A RESPECTABLE JUNKIE gives a brief look into living with this disease, puts a face on heroin addiction, and shows the heroism, heartbreak, and hope that comes with fighting opioid dependency.

Heartfelt thanks to all our community sponsors, individual donors, artists, staff, and others who supported this World Premiere production. Our aim is that the play will help create awareness, understanding, empathy, and hopefulness in meeting this great challenge facing our society.

With Love and Respect,



From the Artistic Director: HAND TO GOD

On a mild summer afternoon in 2015 I stepped out of the Booth Theatre onto the sidewalk along W. 45th St. in New York City. I turned on my cell phone and immediately sent a message to Dobama Managing Director Julie Friedman. I texted “At intermission for HAND TO GOD. A really tight script and the funniest first act I’ve seen. We have to do this play.” So, here we are about 18 months later and this hilarious dark comedy has hit the Dobama stage, ready to possess audiences with its sinful story and devastating one-liners.

To do this show right, you need a skilled cast and a top-notch creative team. We’re lucky to have just that for this production. As with all the scripts Dobama produces each season, it takes some of the region’s most skilled theatre professionals to bring it to life and give our audiences the first-class theatre experience they’ve come to expect from Dobama Theatre. We are grateful for the support of our patrons and community sponsors who make producing high quality professional theatre in an intimate venue possible.

Much like Tyrone, the devilish sock puppet at the center of Robert Askins' play, HAND TO GOD began cute, small, and unassuming before an unexpected and rapid ascent to become larger than life with a 36 week run on Broadway. Further proving the play’s popularity, this past fall Theatre Communications Group announced that HAND TO GOD would be the most produced play in American professional theatres this season. This raucous show is entertaining and irreverent from start to finish – a great way to end Dobama’s 16/17 Season.

We’re excited to also announce an added show this summer, the World Premiere of HOW TO BE A RESPECTABLE JUNKIE by Greg Vovos, running June 15-July 2, starring Christopher Bohan. You won’t want to miss this humorous and harrowing true story based on a series of interviews with a survivor of heroin addiction from right here in Northeast Ohio.

In your program you’ll find our dynamic 17/18 Season, an eclectic lineup of exciting new plays that you’ll definitely want to be a part of. Consider becoming a Dobama Member, or making a season-ending donation to the theatre so that we finish 16/17 strong. Most of all, help spread the word about Dobama Theatre, Cleveland’s own off-Broadway theatre. You make all we do possible and will see to it that Dobama sustains its important work as we look ahead to our 60th Season and beyond.

With Love & Respect,


From the Artistic Director: THE FLICK


Screens surround us all the time: computer screens, tv screens, cell phone screens, iPad screens, electronic displays… they’re everywhere. The world has never been better informed. We’ve never been more connected to each other. And yet it seems both the information we receive and the personal connections we make are less authentic – they lack depth and understanding. Surrounded by screens that link us, in many ways we’ve never been less connected and more in the dark. THE FLICK is about a little part of the world we miss when we’re racing from place to place staring at a device in the palm of our hand.

In THE FLICK, the lives of three people cleaning a movie theatre in a small town are given an epic treatment − the kind of importance usually reserved for the movies. The audience is a fly on the wall (or in this case, the screen) and we watch their actions and interactions in real time. Nothing is sped up for dramatic effect. Instead, in the hyperrealistic theatricality of Annie Baker, the dialogue, actions, reactions, feelings, and relationships feel truly authentic and leave us with an epic intimacy that is rarely found onstage.

Annie Baker is one of the most important and celebrated playwrights we have in the American Theatre today. She is a different kind of playwright, with a unique style that requires the observer to slow way down and be present. In THE FLICK, she casts a light on three everyday people – people who are simply walked past, left unseen, and often forgotten. 

We hope you enjoy Annie Baker’s masterwork THE FLICK. We are looking forward to bringing you the devilish hit HAND TO GOD to end this season and to announcing another exciting lineup of new plays for our 17/18 season very soon. Help spread the word about Dobama and thank you for supporting live, professional theatre.


From the Artistic Director: THE NIGHT ALIVE

“And now the country is a shambles and we’re crying out for people like you. That can lead us into the light…” - Maurice, THE NIGHT ALIVE

When we first arrive in the first floor drawing room of a decrepit old Dublin house in Conor McPherson’s THE NIGHT ALIVE, we enter a dark, grimy mess of a home. An old man in his pajamas stands with a walking stick and stares out over the dwelling, then scurries away. Enter Tommy, disheveled, worn and out of breath, followed by Aimee, injured, bleeding, and trying to find her way through the disarray.

The play is set in squalor and muck. The people we meet are largely flawed and lead difficult lives, just getting by and making due. With every passing moment, the outlook is bleak. And yet, amidst the dreariness there is the warmth of human connection and compassion.  Above the dark, there is light shining through stained glass windowpanes and double doors, cutting the gloom. Beyond the disorder, there is hope and faith in a small group of people that depend on each other and the promise of redemption.

Conor McPherson is one of our most important playwrights, and this script is among his best. Every line of this play seems real, full of grit and desperation. Yet, under the craftsmanship of a great playwright, dialogue becomes lyrical prose, occasionally transcending into poetry. This is the beauty of THE NIGHT ALIVE.

We hope that in the cold and dark of a Cleveland winter, this production can bring a visceral energy, unexpected warmth, and a little light into your world. From everyone at Dobama, thank you for your continued support as we enter the second half of our exciting 16/17 season. Enjoy the show!




PETER: But I don’t want it to end! ...

MOLLY: This isn’t the end. You’re going to remember everything, every single detail - …

PETER: The thing we did…

MOLLY: Against impossible odds…


Last December at Dobama, something magical happened. Hundreds and hundreds of people, many of them families with children, walked through our doors and sat in our theatre for the very first time. They experienced cats and crocodiles, mollusks and mermaids, pirates and Peter Pan, all brought to the stage through the magic of stagecraft. Everyone sat close together and experienced our little world of Neverland.

I heard stories of children begging parents and grandparents to bring them back again, with many volunteering Christmas, Hanukkah, and birthday money to cover the cost of a ticket. I was stopped in the lobby and received emails with tales of kids playing “Black Stache and Peter Pan” in the living room, flying down the hallway, or sword fighting with wooden spoons in the kitchen. We had many reports of kids signing up to be in school and community plays and even submitting their own plays to our Marilyn Bianchi Kids’ Playwriting Festival. And many of the Moms, Dads, Grandpas and Grandmas decided to come back to Dobama to have a date night of their own by attending a more adult show later in the season.

This is a true “encore production” for PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. The enthusiasm of our audiences and the wish for many to see the show that couldn’t get a ticket last year prompted the move to bring it back again this year. But, our mission is centered on Cleveland premieres, so this will be Peter’s final flight on our stage.

In this season of giving, we’re happy to give you this magical theatre experience and we hope that you’ll consider making a year-end gift to Dobama so that we can continue to do the important work of supporting professional local theatre artists and bringing high-quality, important productions to the region. From everyone at Dobama Theatre, have a healthy and happy winter season.



We need to talk about AN OCTOROON.

The New York Times called Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ play “this decade’s most eloquent theatrical statement on race in America.” If you look up the word eloquent you’ll find synonyms like persuasive, powerful, potent, vivid, articulate, and expressive. All these words describe AN OCTOROON.

America has a hard time talking about race. Thanks to cell phones, security cameras, and immediate access to video via social media and 24-hour news, our country is currently being forced to have a conversation about racial justice. Our nation’s bigotry and violence, both past and present, is seeping to the surface of our collective consciousness. The reverberations of America in 1859 (the year Dion Boucicault’s THE OCTOROON opened) continue to rattle the country today. Institutional racism lies hidden in policy and practice, while xenophobia and prejudice continuously pour out on the surface of our political landscape. Everyone’s angry. Everyone’s hurting. Everyone’s asking the question “How do we move forward?”

Theatre allows us to talk back to history and to understand the past by trying it on. It provides shared experiences that help us discuss both the things that make us all human as well as the different perspectives that make us unique as individuals. Theatre provokes conversations that enable our community to take steps towards understanding.

AN OCTOROON makes us face our history, places it in a modern context, and shakes things up, forcing audiences to see, hear, think, feel, and ultimately to engage in dialogue that most would be much more comfortable not having. But we must have these conversations. Lives are at stake.

At Dobama, our mandate is to generate rousing conversations sparked by provocative theatre. Theatre must bring our community together and promote growth and understanding. We must do all we can to combat fear, prejudice, and discrimination.

This is a play about America. Everyone’s welcome. Everyone’s equal. Let’s talk.

With Love and Respect,

Nathan Motta