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Cleveland Play House Provides Virtual Theatre For Young Audiences With Hip-Hop Play, JACKED!

This interactive hybrid event features a streamed, pre-recorded live performance alongside personalized live discussions with CPH artists about the play.

Cleveland Play House Provides Virtual Theatre For Young Audiences With Hip-Hop Play, JACKED!

Cleveland Play House is committed to being of service to Northeast Ohio communities and meeting their unique needs.

CPH has announced a revamped virtual presentation of its celebrated children's play Jacked! Part of the KeyBank Classroom Matinee Touring Program, this interactive hybrid event features a streamed, pre-recorded live performance alongside personalized live discussions with CPH artists about the play.

Written by Idris Goodwin and featuring Stefon Funderburke and Isabel Tucen, Jacked! uses hip-hop, break-beat music and storytelling to open a dialogue on pressing social issues between parents, educators and young audiences. Virtual performances are available to educators and families now through May 21, 2021. To learn more about ticketing information, patrons may visit

Co-directed by Nathan Henry and Colleen Jackson, the production transcends the screen to evoke the immediacy and intimate power of live theatre. In addition, conversations with performers encourage meaningful discourse and a richer understanding of the themes within this play, which is based on the classic story Jack and the Beanstalk.

At the end of that well-known fairy tale, Jack and his mother live happily ever after. But in this reimagined world of magical beans and shady deals, "happily ever after" is just the beginning for Jack. When his farm can't feed him, his community can't support him and his own mother can't care for him, Jack takes matters into his own hands and steals a golden goose. But the eggs that goose lays turn Jack's world upside down and send him on a journey that will change his life forever. The one-act play is driven by a continuous underscoring of beats developed by Yared Sound and SCZ (pronounced "seize") of Rhythm Science Sounds, hip-hop educators based in Louisville, KY.

Co-Director Nathan Henry states, "The pandemic has been challenging for everybody. But sometimes we forget about the most vulnerable people in our communities...our young people." Henry continues, "Creating a unique theatrical experience for CPH's youngest audience members was particularly important to the entire organization. So, when this opportunity came around, the production team at CPH pivoted to make plans for us to rehearse and film the show while also being able to implement all of the COVID-19 safety protocols. Throughout our rehearsal process, we knew this show would be a vital tool for educators and administrators, as well as parents who are at home working with their kids during the shutdown."

Co-Director Colleen Jackson says, "It was so important to us to get art into the kids''s vital. It's part of the healing process. It's part of their coping mechanisms and we want them to be able to engage in that same way. So, it was really pressing for us to be creative and figure out how to still reach them." Jackson also serves as Music Director for this virtual production.

Nationally acclaimed playwright Idris Goodwin is renowned for his literary works tying in cultural and systemic issues with hip-hop and break-beat music (CPH produced Goodwin's break-beat play How We Got On in 2014). Goodwin originally wrote Jacked! to spark discussion about substance abuse and the opioid epidemic's overwhelming effects on Ohio communities. Jacked! uses magical metaphors to ask what addiction looks like, and how poverty, trauma and adverse childhood experiences make addiction difficult to combat. The tale's universality helps it speak to a range of joyful, difficult and thought-provoking experiences. The epidemic, along with other social crises, has been intensified by the isolation of COVID-19, making conversations with young audiences about these issues more urgent.

According to a January 2021 report from Ohio Attorney General David Yost's Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education (SCOPE), more Ohioans died from opioid overdoses during a three-month period in the spring of 2020 than at any point since the opioid epidemic began, topping a previous historic high reached in 2017. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office projects more than 600 deaths due to opioid overdoses in 2020, the highest number since 2017. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the opioid epidemic caused profound displacement among families. As the opioid crisis swept across the United States, the number of children entering the foster care system rose. From 2000 to 2017, there was a 147% increase in foster care entries due to parents' drug use, according to a 2019 study in medical journal JAMA Pediatrics. Foster care entries related to parental drug use was most prominent from 2012 to 2017, when there were also surges in opioid use and overdoses.

Director of Education & Artistic Strategies Pamela DiPasquale says: "The COVID-19 pandemic has likely increased the risk of complex trauma among children. Although staying at home can be beneficial to some, many of our communities' children have been at a greater risk for experiencing social isolation and household stressors such as addiction or food insecurities. Jacked! gently opens those conversations for children and their caregivers and provides language to children who might be struggling but not have the words to describe their feelings. It also reminds everyone that we are not alone in our sadness or pain. It provides comfort and hope that we don't need magic beans to solve our problems, we just need to plant seeds sown with care.

Cleveland Play House and Louisville's StageOne Family Theatre joined forces to co-develop and workshop Jacked! in 2019. Touring hundreds of schools in Ohio and Kentucky, the play was also performed at the Greater Cleveland Drug Court in December 2019. This marks CPH's first offering specifically for young audiences since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown began in March of 2020.

For eight decades, CPH has presented unique educational programs for young people in Northeast Ohio. CPH's suite of 13 groundbreaking programs serve over 45,000 students annually at hundreds of schools and community centers across the region. Since 2013, the KeyBank Classroom Matinee Touring Program has reached students and families in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky. Programming has touched on timely themes such as bullying, racial tolerance, socioeconomic inequality and conflict resolution.

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