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


Bathsheba Doran’s THE MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX is a love story. But this isn’t a your conventional “boy-meets-girl” romantic comedy. This play is about the love of lifelong friends, of a husband and wife in a troubled marriage, the love between father and daughter, mother and son, the search of young people for a partner, and about learning to love yourself. The love and intimate relationships between the characters in this play help them unlock the secrets of who they are.

Discovering who you are is a journey that takes a lifetime. We’re always evolving and changing, as is the world around us, so we’re constantly learning more about ourselves. It’s the people we encounter in our daily life, often those closest to us, who help us understand more about who we are, about what makes each one of us unique.

Dobama Theatre’s 2016/17 Season centers on identity. On the cover of our season brochure you’ll find the phrase “recognize yourself.” We hope that you recognize yourself in some of the characters, relationships, and situations in THE MYSTERY OF LOVE & SEX. The thoughtfulness, humor, and superb writing of Ms. Doran’s beautiful play is indicative of what you’ll find in all the shows in Dobama’s 57th Season. We look forward to seeing you at the theatre throughout the year and hope you get to experience them all.

We remain appreciative of your ongoing support of Dobama Theatre. We’ll continue to bring you first-rate professional productions of some of the best new plays in the American Theatre while fairly supporting local professional theatre artists. Thank you for helping to make that happen.

With Love & Respect,

Nathan Motta
Artistic Director, Dobama Theatre

Recognize yourself.

Recognize yourself.

Identity. This theme pervades all art forms in every time. Why? Because nothing reflects the human experience like exploring who we are as individuals. Sitting amid strangers in a dark theatre for a live, communal experience and watching someone’s story told is a unique way to gain insight into your own life and the lives of others.


There are two stories of Marie Antoinette. The first is of an out-of-touch celebrity whose luxurious tastes and massive spending helped cast a nation into financial ruin at a time when the vast majority of the population was starving. The second is of a young girl who was built to be a royal by her cold and domineering mother before being sent off to be married at the age of 14, only to be cast into the powder keg of a political coup. Both stories are true. Both stories culminate in the same ending - rumors fly, an icon becomes a scapegoat, and political extremists murder Marie Antoinette during a Reign of Terror that lasts almost a year.

Like its subject, David Adjmi’s play also has two stories at work. It uses the framework of the major events of Marie Antoinette’s life as Queen of France while employing modern day language. This juxtaposition places the audience in a parallel universe, where the incidents leading to the French Revolution are relevant to life in the present day. In a brilliant way, the playwright’s sharp verbiage and economy of language use the milieu of the French court in the 18th century to echo the current political and cultural climate. The Hall of Mirrors in Mr. Adjmi’s parallel world reflects many of the issues facing America today. These historical events are especially pertinent in this election year, in a country with overwhelming income inequality, where poverty threatens even the richest of nations, and where the public response runs the gamut from peaceful activism to hate and violence.

We’re so excited to bring you this tour-de-force production of MARIE ANTOINETTE. A superb creative team and stellar cast have worked tirelessly to mount this dynamic theatrical experience to close our 2015/16 Season. Thank you for an amazing season! We hope you’re as thrilled as we are about the plays slated for 2016/17. For information on next season, to purchase a membership, or read about other exciting events to come, visit Thank you for being a part of Dobama and, as always, for supporting live professional theatre.

With Love and Respect,
Nathan Motta, Artistic Director


Some basic human needs are obvious: food, water, shelter. They are needed for simple survival. But there are other essential human needs less obvious but just as necessary to living a healthy existence: love, physical intimacy, some kind of belief system. What about family? Is a family essential to survive? Expand the definition of family to close friends, neighbors, or other groups that provide some sense of community or connection to a larger whole. Would family qualify as a basic human need? There are numerous studies on the effects of solitary confinement on mental health and the effects of limited social interaction on the sanity of human beings. Let’s assume for a moment that family is essential to our well-being. How does a family help sustain us?

Pictures with familiar faces surround us and remind us of memories, giving a feeling of love and support. Conversations keep us connected, providing an outlet to explore our feelings, share stories, and hear about someone else’s human experience. Without these things, without personal connection, without someone to share our human experience with, left completely alone with our thoughts, can we truly survive?

THE REVISIONIST throws together two people, each in desperate need of personal validation and connection. The conflict lies in that their needs are in contrast to each other. Maria needs her family. David takes his family for granted while hunting for something else. Each character uses various tactics throughout the play to get what they need, yet by the end, their needs change and each takes a different course of action to survive.

We hope you enjoy this thought-provoking and intriguing new play from actor, playwright, and humorist Jesse Eisenberg. We’ve assembled a stellar group of artists to realize this script, including Cleveland’s treasured Dorothy Silver. It’s always an honor and pleasure to have her on the Dobama stage. Mark your calendars for MARIE ANTOINETTE, the final show in our season. Make plans to come out for our important programs this summer, including the 38th Annual Marilyn Bianchi Kids’ Playwriting Festival and the Playwrights’ GYM “My Story” Festival in June, as well as the Dobama Emerging Actors Program production in July.  Be sure to stay tuned for the announcement of Dobama’s 2016-17 Season in the coming weeks and, as always, thank you for supporting live, professional theatre. You make all the difference.

With Love and Respect,

Nathan Motta, Artistic Director


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau

Playwright Will Eno writes in the notes for THE REALISTIC JONESES that while each of the four characters are dealing with illness, death, and mortality, they are also just trying to get through the day (pick up groceries, etc.). You might say that they are living in quiet desperation. But what if those personal thoughts, the “quiet” that Thoreau refers to, were exposed? What if these characters’ inner monologues were shared, spoken in a sort of stream of consciousness within a normal conversation? This is what we get with Will Eno’s writing. The result is a play that is at once extremely funny, very sad, at moments touching, and which raises to the surface larger ideas.

Famously dubbed by Charles Isherwood of The New York Times the “Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation”, Will Eno’s playfulness and dryness of language is humorous, unique, and provocative. Mr. Eno is one of the most important playwrights in American Theatre today and Dobama Theatre has been a champion of his work, having previously staged acclaimed productions of THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) and MIDDLETOWN. While MIDDLETOWN borrowed thematically from Thornton Wilder’s OUR TOWN, I believe there are distinct traces of Albee’s WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF in THE REALISTIC JONESES. The biting humor and human relationships, something both plays have in common, help make THE REALISTIC JONESES perhaps Mr. Eno’s most “realistic” and accessible play.

As with many great plays, THE REALISTIC JONESES is at once about life’s biggest questions and smallest details; about human beings being at once both small and insignificant as well as precious and invaluable in our relationships with each other. These things can touch us deeply, make us think profoundly, and laugh heartily. 

We hope you enjoy Will Eno’s distinctive and hilarious new play THE REALISTIC JONESES. With a tremendous cast and superb design team, you’re surely in for a first-rate production. As we begin 2016, let us take this opportunity to thank you for supporting Dobama and live professional theatre in Cleveland. You make all we do possible.

With Love and Respect,


From the Artistic Director: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER

“To have faith is to have wings.”

I never believed in “theatre magic”. Like most theatre artists, the majority of my experiences during the early years of my life in the theatre were comprised of high school and amateur productions. Back then, “theatre magic” usually meant that the show was a mess until the week before we opened and magically everything came together in the end. This “magic” was usually caused by everyone finally being scared into putting all their time and effort into learning lines, finishing sets, and locating props. I thought that if everyone came in prepared, were fully dedicated to the show, and had communicated and collaborated with all involved, the excuse of “theatre magic” wouldn’t be necessary and the final product would be a much better show. 

But as time went on and I saw more professional theatre and worked in professional productions, I began to understand the true definition of the term “theatre magic”. I remember seeing prisoners hover along a turntable and Javert jump from a bridge in Les Miserables. I recall watching a young girl stand in a single pool of light, recall a horrific experience, and be immediately transported from my seat at The Public Theatre (NY) to her bedroom. I saw a mansion rise off the ground to reveal two apartments in Sunset Boulevard, a helicopter land in Miss Saigon, and a man become a donkey in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I realized that true theatre magic isn’t about the people making it. Theatre magic is how the imagination, hard work, skill, and collaboration of theatre artists can make magic real for an audience.

I believe that the big attraction to PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is its “theatre magic”. Even when you can see how the magic is being made, your imagination and connection to the characters on stage make it real and transport you to another place. Dobama Theatre is the perfect venue for this show. Our production will be unique and yet true to the spirit of this play, giving all who enter our space and intimate, epic, and truly magical experience.

Dobama Theatre is honored and grateful to present PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. We expect that this show will be, for many, their first visit to Dobama. We hope that you find out what so many of our members have discovered Dobama to be – a home for professional productions, the best new plays, important conversations, and a tight-knit family community. From everyone here, we wish you and yours a warm and peaceful holiday season.

With Love and Respect,


From the Artistic Director: THE CALL

“THE CALL is about adoption, yes. It’s about race, midlife, Africa and marriage. It’s also about taking a leap, as terrifying as it may be. It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone and committing to something bigger than yourself. It’s about recognizing the power of change and then actually doing it. About being an active member of society—the global society—and improving upon it. It’s about hearing the call to be something more, and then taking that call. As uncomfortable as it may be.” – Tanya Barfield

One of the most valuable things that theatre can do for audiences and artists alike is create conversation. Theatre can be a catalyst for discussion that has the potential to take a social issue from simply a concept to a reality for the audience.  This can be the first step in prompting better understanding, deeper empathy, and lasting societal change.

Many of these conversations are messy, hard, or uncomfortable, but theatre is a safe space to start this dialogue. These discussions may already be happening around kitchen tables, on park benches, and on living room sofas, but plays like THE CALL can pull those conversations into a public forum. Unlike reading about an event in a newspaper article or seeing a documentary about a social issue, with theatre you’re watching a living, breathing person on stage dealing with a difficult problem in an intensely personal way. 

As the playwright herself says, this is a play about adoption, race, midlife, Africa, marriage, risk taking, global activism, friendship, parenting and much more. What you walk away talking about with friends or go over in your own mind will depend on your own life experience - the personal lens through which you view the play.

We hope you enjoy THE CALL, the second show in Dobama’s 2015/16 Season. We’re so proud to have this relevant, humorous, and beautiful play grace the Dobama stage in our ongoing effort to bring you the best of American Theatre. Please help us continue to grow by spreading the word about the dynamic and exciting work of Dobama Theatre - an Off Broadway theatre right in Cleveland’s backyard.

With Love and Respect,

Nathan Motta


The Infinite Ceiling

The Infinite Ceiling

“The Infinite Ceiling" - Dobama Theatre’s blog on all things theatre because the thoughts generated by both creating and experiencing art are truly never-ending. Whether it’s an examination of how theatre is made, commenting on the stories being brought to the stage through theatre, or connecting with the people that are creating theatre, the ideas spawned by this art form are as endless as the human experience.

From the Artistic Director: OR,

"All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn
which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey,
for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds."

- Virginia Woolf

In the pantheon of women literary figures, perhaps no writer is more deserving of being the subject of a play than Aphra Behn. Behn was (arguably) the world’s first professional female playwright and remains a role model for writers to this day. Beyond her work as a playwright, Behn was also a spy, poetess, political figure, and novelist. Her voice was one perfectly attuned to the attitudes of the Restoration period and she proved to be a feminist long before that word was coined.

OR, this remarkable and impeccably crafted play by Liz Duffy Adams, is much like the historical figure it centers around. OR, is intrinsically intelligent, sumptuously sensual, persistently playful, full of frivolity, loves its language and is chock-full of surprises.

It is rare that I come across a play with so many of the qualities that warrant a production on the Dobama stage. The writing is superb. This play is beautifully written with dynamic, sharp, clever poetic language. It’s relevant. This play is thought-provoking and addresses themes and issues that are as true today as they were in the 1660s or the 1960s. It’s by women, starring women (mostly). Whenever planning a season, it’s important to tell many different types of stories on the stage with diverse voices. It’s fun. You can take a die-hard theatre lover or first-time theatre goer to this play and they’re going to have a good time. It’s sexy. And sex sells.

For those reasons (and many others), it’s with great pleasure that we kick off our 2015/16 Season with OR, by Liz Duffy Adams. It’s apropos that we begin the year with this play given this season’s theme - Past is Prologue. We hope you enjoy the improvements we’ve made over the summer to our lobby areas, audience engagement programming, and website in our ongoing effort to enhance your theatre-going experience. So get strapped in for a stellar line-up of plays this season at Dobama Theatre. It’s going to be a wild ride.

With Love and Respect,

Nathan Motta, Artistic Director