There is a LOT of theater in Cleveland. So much so that theaters are in great competition for personnel. Actors, directors (particularly), stage managers, playwrights/makers, critics (caveat, I’m talking about critics with clear and decisive critical opinions), designers, ushers, marketers, development-types, I could go on (as always) but (as always) you get the idea. I’m not saying that you’d make a living in legitimate theater if you lived here, but it’s highly likely that your resume would get filled as fast as a pretty girl’s dance card.
Cleveland’s current season runs the gamut from charming book musical (Bock & Harnick’s She Loves Me) to unmarketable-in-mass-media (Mike Bartlett’s Cock), from experimental/devised/developmental/solo/what-have-you (Cleveland Public Theatre) to classics (Shakespeare’s Richard III) to brand-new LORT-level works (Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Informed Consent) – and, looking to future seasons, a shout-out to the brand-spankin’-new Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House (yes, Cleveland sports America’s FIRST regional theater), Laura Kepley, who takes over in the runup to their centennial, and has already proven herself as a champion of local theater and theater artists.
In a union? There’s work. Not in a union? There’s a breathtaking amount of work. Seems like every suburb has a community theater, many of which are trying to go pro (e.g., Cleveland Heights’ Dobama and Ensemble). Please note, if I linked to every theater in the Greater Cleveland Area, I’d be here all day, and I have playwrighting to get to.
But, you say, it’s clique-ish, every town is clique-ish. You’ll find Cleveland to be a great reflection of your own personality: if you’re clique-ish, you’ll find cliques (that will/won’t let you in); if you’re open, you’ll find some of the friendliest folks anywhere I’ve ever been (not a definitive sample, but I’ve been a lot lot lot of places); if you’re a party-gal/guy, we’ve got some of the best restaurants/bars/clubs in the country); if you’re intense about theater-making, you’ll find intensity in spades… get the picture?
Cost of living is pretty low and that sought-after post-college pre-career demographic has filled Downtown’s rental units to 97% at this writing. Don’t worry, there are plenty of hot nabes within 15 minutes of Downtown and some not-too-bad public transportation, tho our sprawl dictates that we be a car town, but there are also quite a few terrific neighborhoods on both sides of town with everything you need in walking distance (e.g., Coventry, Cedar-Lee, Ohio City, Tremont). There are also working llama farms, a whole horsey culture, and we’re ringed with some of the loveliest big parks in the nation. A newly-renovated/expanded Art Museum (please forgive their behemoth-like, amazingly unwieldy website). Did I mention that one of the world’s top orchestras lives here? And isn’t so stuffy that they don’t concertize in bars? And a bar that hosts not only The Cleveland Orchestra but also erudite talks about science, cutting-edge music, poetry readings – again, you get the idea.
So, theater types (especially you directors), move to Cleveland for a few years. Your career won’t be sorry and likely, neither will you.