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Palgrave Macmillan

America's First Regional Theatre

The Cleveland Play House and Its Search for a Home

ISBN 9781137394347
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History

In the fall of 2011, the Cleveland Play House abandoned its former home of eighty-four years to establish a new presence within a downtown performing arts complex, providing a feeling of renewal and rebirth that the theatre has not experienced in decades. With its new facility and its upcoming centenary anniversary, the history of the legendary theatre serves as a springboard to discuss how the Cleveland Play House mirrored the achievements and struggles of both the city of Cleveland and the American theatre over the past one hundred years. This book challenges the established history (often put forward by the theatre itself) and long-held assumptions concerning the creation of the institution and its legacy. Utilizing new research (including access to the once-restricted Cleveland Play House archives), Ullom tells the compelling story of how this celebrated institution was founded and how it, and American theatre at large, has managed to survive and even thrive.

Jeffrey Ullom is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre at Case Western Reserve University, USA. He is the author of The Humana Festival and his work has been published internationally in numerous journals.

Introduction 1. Building the House
2. Averting Disaster and Ignoring Cleveland
3. Learning Curve
4. "Catch These Vandals!"
5. The War at Home
6. Escaping "No Man's Land"
7. The 'Endangered' Theatre
8. A Place to Call Home
Conclusion: The New "No Man's Land"


"Ullom's account of the Cleveland Play House's search for its identity provides a strong paradigm for how this kind of historical project should be done. Working with new archival material, America's First Regional Theatre is a glimpse into the complicated evolution of a cultural treasure. Well-researched, with a strong critical and analytical approach of looking at theatre history through the larger lens of sociology, economics, and politics." - David A. Crespy, University of Missouri, USA and author of Off-Off-Broadway Explosion (2003) and Richard Barr: The Playwrights Producer (2013)
"The history of Cleveland Play House is inseparable from that of the community it has served since 1915. Jeffrey Ullom tells the tale of a pioneering arts institution through a century of triumphs and tribulations, juxtaposed with the story of a once mighty, now resurgent metropolitan community. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the history of Cleveland Play House, the American theatre, and the Cleveland community." - Kevin Moore, Managing Director, Cleveland Play House
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