why Cleveland? yes, this is a theater blog.

The Mistake on the Lake?

Not any more, it’s the Best Location in the Nation.

Oh, so many things about Cleveland to love.  I had to move away to understand what an excellent place it is, thank heaven I came back.

The amount of theater in Cleveland is ridiculous, there’s so much that if I went to the theater every Thursday-Sunday, I couldn’t necessarily see everything on offer.  There’s a fairly high level of production values and acting, the only thing that’s missing in a big way is more than a couple of good directors.  Both Cool Cleveland and Cleveland.com have calendars.

Cleveland theater is even better than that, with support for new works from more than a handful of theaters – Dobama, Ensemble, Cleveland Public Theatre, Theatre Ninjas, and Convergence-Continuum (Con-Con, to those in the know), to name but a few.  Oh, and the nation’s longest continuously running regional theater, Cleveland Play House, not to mention Great Lakes Theatre Festival.  Wish I could shout out local professional company Actors’ Summit, but they recently moved to Akron, not quite a ‘burb – wait, I just did!

Cleveland has the fourth-largest theater district in the country, and coincidentally ranks fourth in plays produced yearly.  Not to mention (yes, to mention) that since I became a playwright, Cleveland has supported my work with readings, grants, workshops, and membership in not one but three writers’ groups attached to local theaters. A lot of great new plays are coming out of Cleveland playwrights, plays that are being produced here and in Colorado and Oregon and New Mexico – hey, eastern states, hop on the bandwagon!

Theater schools?  For kids, there are Talespinner Children’s Theatre and Fairmount Center for the Performing Arts, to name only two; at Uni level, there are Victoria Bussert’s department at Baldwin-Wallace College, Matthew Wright’s department at Oberlin College (not quite local, but with strong ties to CPT and the local theater community); and the MFA program at Case Western Reserve University – again, to name only a few.  Graduates of all of these departments are appearing on Broadway regularly, nowadays.

Two big, really useful Cleveland things are the Cool Cleveland website/e-blasts, which cover arts, humanities, sports, silliness, food, pretty much everything recreational in the area; and NEOhioPAL, a listserv from which you can learn about all sorts of events and opportunities, mostly theatrical.

Then there’s the Emerald Necklace – Cleveland is ringed with parks – the Metroparks, actually – that are absolutely glorious.

The Cleveland Public Library is an amazing research tool, much of it available online, but everyone should go down to the Library at some point, it’s a gorgeous building, what a Library should be.  Also, Loganberry Books on Larchmere is NOT TO BE MISSED.  New books, old books, games, art, in a huge building filled with very friendly, informative people.

Cleveland boasts not one but four world-recognized chefs, and a bunch of others who not only cook extremely well, but are involved in food sustainability and local sourcing, e.g. Doug Katz of fire food and drink, who is on a national council for fish sustainability.  There are some really excellent restaurants, with food at a fraction of the cost in New York or Chicago or Santa Fe.  No wonder Cleveland has been touted by travel magazines as a foodie destination.

Add to that how nice and friendly people are in Cleveland and the near suburbs – on a recent trip to San Francisco, sitting at an oyster bar, the woman next to me struck up a very friendly, lively conversation.  She lives there, but where was she born?  Cleveland Heights.

If you take into account an excellent provincial-level art museum and one of the 5 top symphony orchestras IN THE WORLD (and no, that’s not just my opinion, research shows that it’s the world’s opinion), the affordability of housing and office space, and the lack of crowding, you’ll understand why, after living (and succeeding) in New York, Santa Fe, and Melbourne VIC Australia, I came home and am staying.

And if you don’t believe me, here’s a hats-off from none other than Michael Symon, TV star, Iron Chef, Clevelander.
©2011 all rights reserved

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