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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Literary Cleveland Launching Pandemic Writing Anthology by Local Essential Workers

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2021 at 11:57 AM

  • Courtesy Literary Cleveland
Earlier this year, 60 essential workers in Northeast Ohio participated in trauma-informed writing workshops organized by Literary Cleveland, the local literary arts nonprofit.

On Nov. 9, Literary Cleveland will publish selections from the writing that emerged in an online anthology called "Voices from the Edge." It aims to amplify the stories of frontline workers and their experiences during the pandemic while encouraging readers to advocate for higher pay and better protections for all of Ohio's workers.

The anthology will include 20 poems and essays from workers in the medical industry, social workers, grocery store and food service workers and those who provided home health and hospice care. (All participants in the Literary Cleveland workshops received $15/hour for their time and creativity.)

The anthology was predicated on the idea that essential workers put their own lives on the line for more than a year to keep society functioning, but few were given the opportunity to personally reflect on the pandemic and its effects on them. The anthology reveals the experiences and feelings of those "living on the edge of history."

A virtual launch party at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 will celebrate the anthology's publication and feature live readings from contributors. 

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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Exhibition with Surreal Fantasy Forest Opens at Ursuline's Wasmer Gallery Friday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2021 at 2:39 PM

  • Courtesy Ursuline Wasner Gallery

Viewers are invited to engage in “ReFuge: The Last Days of Wonder,” an interactive, two-site exhibit exploring themes of nature as refuge at Ursuline College’s Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery. An opening reception Friday October 22nd will launch the exhibit, which runs through Friday, January 28, 2022. 

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and was conceived and curated by Wasmer Gallery Director, Anna Arnold. It features five noteworthy local artists: Joyce Morrow Jones, Jacques Payne Jackson, Ron Shelton, and Claudio Orso.

“ReFuge: The Last Days of Wonder,” is site-specific and invites visitors to explore the gallery space, which has been transformed into a surreal fantasy forest created by Arnold and the coalition of installation and mixed-media artists from Cuyahoga County. The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes hosts the companion exhibit featuring two-dimensional work by the same artists.

“Visitors will enter an organic environment made of reused materials that has become a place of exploration, meditation, and healing,” Arnold said. “Wasmer’s installations include: an engaging ten-foot-tall Mother Nature figure created from recycled cardboard; a lighted, running indoor fountain; a life-sized figure with a pair of elegant, patchwork fabric wings that reach out in a gentle embrace; and a 20-foot-wide by 10-foot-tall paper flower wall.”

This exhibition, which is free and open to the public, engages its gallery-goers in a tranquil meditation space where they may reflect on nature. ‘ReFuge,’ offers the viewer an opportunity to tune into the imagined world created by this group of installation artists as they bring you into their vision of a constructed and interactive environment. The exhibition is made possible by funds from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.

Ursuline’s Wasmer Gallery is located at: 2550 Lander Road in Pepper Pike about 25 minutes from downtown Cleveland.

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20+ Things To Do in Cleveland This Weekend (Oct. 21-24)

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2021 at 8:27 AM

Comedian Gary Owen performs at the Improv tonight. - CLEVELANDIMPROV.COM
  • Comedian Gary Owen performs at the Improv tonight.
Our weekly picks of the best things to do in Cleveland this weekend. Also check out our full Cleveland event calendar.

THU 10/21
Gary Owen

Comedian Gary Owen has been entertaining audiences across America for more than a decade. He's not limited to the stage either, as he's had roles in the film Think Like A Man and in Tyler Perry's show House of Payne. Owen says he was always the class clown growing up and it has followed him into his adult life. Ebony magazine proclaimed him to be "Black America's Favorite White Comedian." Owen's set mainly focuses on his personal life and racial stereotypes. Catch his performance tonight at 7 at the Improv, where he has shows scheduled through Sunday. Check the Improv website for ticket prices.
1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV,

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Spirits, Monsters and Magic — Great Lakes Theater Has a Fierce and Fun 'Tempest'

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 7:54 AM

The Tempest, now on stage at Great Lakes Theater - PHOTO BY KEN BLAZE
  • Photo by Ken Blaze
  • The Tempest, now on stage at Great Lakes Theater

One of the favorite tropes of The New Yorker magazine are cartoons with one or two survivors on a tiny desert island, usually with a single, lonely palm tree sticking out of the sand. There is something compelling about the idea of being stranded, far away from the rest of the world, and William Shakespeare knew it a long time ago when he wrote The Tempest. It's a play full of playfulness, some music, and a happy ending for all.

Aging Prospero and his teenage daughter Miranda have been banished to an island where only a spirit named Ariel and a monster, Caliban, are hanging out. And to make matters worse, those four are all in various states of being pissed-off. Prospero himself was exiled after being ousted as the Duke of Milan by his scheming brother Antonio.

Meanwhile his coming-of-age daughter Miranda, feeling frisky, is stuck on a rock with only daddy for company, Ariel wants his ethereal self to be set free, and Caliban (a real son-of-a-witch) seethes because he claims he's the rightful owner of the island which was given to him by his mom. But they can't do much about their various frustrations since Prospero can use magical powers, provided by his cloak and his collection of books, to induce sleep, inflict pain, and mess around with the forces of nature as he desires.

Hot for taking revenge on his enemies, Prospero sends Ariel out to whip up a storm and wreck a ship that's passing by on its way to Italy. The passengers on that vessel just happen to include Antonio (David Anthony Smith); Alonso, the Queen of Naples (Jessika D. Williams), and her counselor Gonzalo (Lisa Tejero). Of course Ariel does his master's bidding and all of Prospero's persecutors are neatly dump onto his turf.

But Prospero's revenge plans go pear-shaped as Miranda meets Alonso's studly son Ferdinand, who has wandered from the beach and away from the other survivors. The two young folks lock eyes, and that's clearly not all they have in mind. That's just the beginning of the complications until everything is resolved with remarkably few dead bodies, especially given old Will's usual headcount when revenge is on the menu.

In this lively production at the Great Lakes Theater, director Sara Bruner grabs this material by the neck, flips a few genders, and cooks up a delicious story that is elevated by bits of music, dance and a few outstanding performances

Standouts in the outstanding cast include Joe Wegner's Ariel, leaping around like a teenager who chugged a six-pack of Redline Xtrreme—twitching, mugging and fully enjoying his ability to mess with people. In the roles of love-struck Miranda and Ferdinand, Angela Utrera and Domonique Champion create some genuine sparks as they do the hormone tango with each other.

Nick Steen makes his Caliban into a compelling but empathetic monster, without the overdone makeup tricks that are frequently employed for this character. And as Trinculo and Staphano, drunken sailors from the ship, Jodi Dominick and Jillian Kates swallow more than they spill as they woozily join forces with the grateful, foot-licking Caliban.

In the central role of Prospero, Aled Davies invests the character with an air of fierce resignation, showing how his desire for revenge morphs into compassion and mercy, finally setting aside his cloak and his magical powers to regain his rightful role as Duke.

To some, Prospero's arc in this play mirrors the playwright's own imminent departure from his own "island" of theatrical activity. In any case, this Tempest succeeds in leaving the audience well satisfied and thoroughly entertained, even though the scenic design is a mixed bag. The stage is dominated by large swaths of parachute fabric which looks stunning during the storm scenes and at a few other times. But in calmer moments, those folds of fabric it just look like a lot of gray laundry somebody needs to iron.

As we slowly emerge from our own pandemic tempest, we can be grateful that we still have connections to the bard. Thanks to GLT, the Ohio Shakespeare Festival, the Cleveland Play House /CWRU MFA program (where Twelfth Night is in production until Oct. 23), and the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, we can once again experience the magnificent words of old Will in live performances. That is no small thing.

The Tempest
Through Nov. 7, produced by the Great Lakes Theater at the Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square, 2067 E. 14th Street, 216-241-6000,

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

20+ Things To Do in Cleveland This Weekend (Oct. 14-Oct. 17)

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 8:16 AM

  • Courtesy 78th Street Studios

Our weekly picks of the best things to do in Cleveland this weekend. Also check out our full Cleveland event calendar.

THU 10/14
Fostering HOPS: A Taste of Van Aken

Fostering Hope, a local nonprofit, will host its sixth annual fundraiser, Fostering HOPS: A Taste of Van Aken, at 7 tonight in the Van Aken Market Hall. There will be drinks courtesy of Sibling Revelry, specially selected tastes from Market Hall vendors and private shopping experiences at some of the Market Hall shops. Craft Collective will feature a VIP area with specialty drinks and food from Kindred Spirit and Michael’s Genuine. Raffle items include a “Barrow of Bourbon” and a "Large Big Green Egg" along with other unique items. This annual fundraiser supports Fostering Hope’s mission of “connecting and enriching youth who live in residential treatment and foster care with unique experiences of hope and healing.” This year, Fostering Hope is expecting to serve over 1,000 children through programming centered on childhood experiences, heath and wellness, and community involvement. Tickets to Fostering HOPS: A Taste of Van Aken can be purchased at Ticket prices range from $80 to $150.
3401 Tuttle Rd., Shaker Heights, 216-491-8800,

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Cleveland Museum of Art Debuts New Exhibition on Motherhood This Week

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2021 at 12:48 PM

Not My Burden, 2019. Titus Kaphar (American, b. 1976). Oil on canvas; 167.6 x 153 cm. © Titus Kaphar. Image courtesy of the artist and Gagosian. Collection of Ellen Susman, Houston, Texas. Photo: Rob McKeever
  • Not My Burden, 2019. Titus Kaphar (American, b. 1976). Oil on canvas; 167.6 x 153 cm. © Titus Kaphar. Image courtesy of the artist and Gagosian. Collection of Ellen Susman, Houston, Texas. Photo: Rob McKeever

'Picturing Motherhood Now,' a new exhibition featuring a diverse collection of works by 33 contemporary artists, will open this Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Cleveland Museum of Art's Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Gallery and run through March 13, 2022.

The exhibition, which interprets current sociological and psychological aspects of motherhood, aims its focus on work created in the past two decades.

It asks questions about how the nuclear family and the concept of matriarchy have evolved over the past 20 years. Moreover, the exhibition challenges the changing definitions of family and gender, the histories and afterlives of slavery, the legacies of migration and the preservation of matrilineal Indigenous cultures, according to CMA.

"Picturing Motherhood Now examines contemporary interpretations of motherhood against the backdrop of the CMA’s encyclopedic collections,” said William M. Griswold, director of the CMA. “Visitors to this compelling exhibition will understand how these artists challenge traditional representations of motherhood and how they diverge from historical treatments of the theme.”

The exhibition is segmented into four themes: Missing Pictures, featuring artwork focused on aspects of motherhood that have been absent from traditional images of the subject; Making and Matrilineage, preserving matrilineal and Indigenous artistic traditions that are passed down from one generation of women to the next; Mother Tongue, examining how language and narrative are the primary mediums to animate strong female protagonists; and Kinships, celebrating unconventional ideas of motherhood and family.

“The subject of motherhood touches every human life—and its representation has been a major theme throughout the history of art,” said Emily Liebert, curator of contemporary art. “Images of motherhood reflect the eras and cultures in which they were created, and the art of the present is no exception. The artists whose work is in Picturing Motherhood Now cast new light on our own time.”

The concept of motherhood is an ever-evolving interpretation of the role the matriarchy plays in human development and encompasses some of our first memories. As it stands, everyone has a mother or comes from one rather, therefore the topic is as universal as it gets. Everyone can relate and everyone will have their own unique interpretation of the work projected onto them from our experience with our own mother’s by comparison and at times, possibly in contrast to the piece which the viewer is interpreting.

“This presentation also includes exciting newly commissioned work as well, including new work by artists Wendy Red Star, Carmen Winant and M. Carmen Lane,” said Nadiah Rivera Fellah, associate curator of contemporary art.

There will be a Fall Member’s Party sneak peak of the exhibition on Thursday, October 14, from 6 to 8:30 pm. Advance tickets are required and members can get free tickets online or by phone at 216-421-7350. Also a special ArtLens App tour will highlight 10 objects from the CMA’s permanent collection that depict mothers and maternity from antiquity to the 20th century.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Pride and Joy is Given a Feminist Update in 'Miss Holmes,' Now on Stage at the Ohio Shakespeare Festival

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2021 at 2:31 PM

Miss Holmes is on stage now - PHOTO BY SCOTT CUSTER
  • Photo by Scott Custer
  • Miss Holmes is on stage now

It would seem to be the easiest theatrical gimmick of all, to rewrite a familiar story but switch the gender of the lead character from male to female, giving the tales fresh pizzazz and a new perspective. However, the risks are substantial since one could easily imagine the disasters that could ensue by refashioning The Death of a Salesman to accommodate a Wilma Loman, or restructuring The Importance of Being Ernestine.

While the gimmick in Miss Holmes, a play by Christopher M. Walsh now on stage at the Ohio Shakespeare Festival, is obvious, the production manages to avoid disaster and deliver an engaging and frequently witty take on the Sherlock Holmes style and substance. Far from spinning in his grave, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is probably sitting up and taking nourishment as he gazes down at this two-hour escapade featuring a female detective named Sherlock (yes, many of the other characters also find that an odd name for a woman), and her sidekick Dr. Dorothy Watson.

For dyed-in-the-Irish-wool Sherlockians the requisite tropes are here, and from the minute Miss Sherlock is brought onstage in a straitjacket and sporting a black eye, her fierce independence and incisive powers of observation are on display. She is in an insane asylum, you see, because she is a woman with a restlessly inventive mind—clearly a sign of metal derangement in late 19th century England. Shortly thereafter, Sherlock uses her skills of deduction to suss out the educational background and recent travel destinations of Lizzie Chapman (Tess Burgler), who has sought her help.

Once Miss Sherlock manages to leave the asylum, she convinces Dr. Watson to accompany her, since Sherlock is aware that she needs a support system if she will be able to assist the powerless women who begin seeking her out. In a play that mandates strong chemistry between those two roles, Rachel Lee Kolis as Sherlock and Amanda Vigneault as Dr. Watson cook up a tasty brew. Each is clever and bold in their own ways, and they spark off each other well, and in an entirely different way than the original male versions do.

Since they are women in that society, they face extra obstacles as they pursue the mystery that Lizzie has presented. These barriers include an initially unbelieving Inspector Lestrade (Derrick Winger) and a dismissive and comically snarky Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock's maid. who cannot adjust to working for a woman who has constant visitors and a job outside the house. In that role and in two others, Holly Humes contributes a trio of remarkably distinct characters.

Of course, as with all Sherlock Holmes mysteries, the plot exists as a puzzle for Sherlock's intricate mind to solve as well as a compelling element in itself. While the character development is a bit sparse, we learn about a tragedy in Miss Watson's past life and about Sherlock's dicey relationship with her brother Mycroft (a menacing Geoff Knox). And it all concludes in a surprise twist that would warm Sir Arthur's heart.

The play is buoyed by other supporting players including a shadowy Ryan Zarecki as Lizzie's husband Thomas. There's also a juicy bit featuring Dimitri Georgiadis as Dr. Watson's erstwhile lover, who helps extract Sherlock once again from the clutches of the asylum by channeling Sid Caesar and pretending to be a renowned psychiatrist, spouting nonsensical Germanic gibberish.

Terry Burgler brings his deft directorial touch to the proceedings and keeps the momentum accelerating, even plowing through some overly wordy thickets. He also deals with the somewhat awkward playing space at Greystone Hall, a thrust stage resembling a runway that squeezes a few double-sided set pieces into a tight cluster upstage.

All in all, Miss Holmes is an amusing and intriguing romp that meshes painlessly with the original material. No doubt the game is afoot in Akron these days.

Miss Holmes
Through Sunday October 24 at the Ohio Shakespeare Festival, Greystone Hall, 103 South High Street, Akron,, 330-5-SHAKES.

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