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Humana Festival Founder Jon Jory and More to Join Cleveland Play House's Hall of Fame


Cleveland Play House will honor a new class of those who have contributed to its vibrant history with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony and luncheon on October 25th from 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Cibrèo Privato located at 2037 E. 14th Street. 2015/16 inductees will include Jon Jory, a former apprentice actor at CPH who went on to found the Humana Festival of New American Plays, The Resident Company of CPH (1921-88), and the CPH Heritage Award will be presented to Karamu House, the revolutionary theatre who, like CPH, is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The Hall of Fame Luncheon will take place during CPH's Centennial Celebration Weekend which spans from Oct. 23-25, and will include a free community open house, along with a variety of performances, activities, presentations, and behind-the-scenes tours.

Past inductees into CPH's Hall of Fame include Ed Asner, Dom DeLuise, Marlo Thomas, and legendary performer Joel Grey, who will be in town to perform his show Joel Grey: Up Close and Personal at the Allen Theatre on Oct. 24 and 25.

CPH Managing Director Kevin Moore states: "Every year we pause to honor CPH greats that came before us through the CPH Hall of Fame. Our 100th Anniversary is certainly a special time to do so, as we induct Jon Jory and The Resident Company of Cleveland Play House (1921-88) and present Karamu House with the CPH Heritage Award. Mr. Jory was a Ford Foundation Apprentice Actor at CPH in the 1950s, and went on to revolutionize American new play development by founding the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. CPH is honoring the entirety of the Resident Company from its inception in 1921 until the business model was changed in 1988. This group produced towering talents such as Margaret Hamilton, Evie McElroy, Kirk Willis, K. Elmo Lowe, Richard Oberlin and Frederic McConnell, among so many others. We are thrilled that longtime company member Richard Halverson will be on hand to accept this honor on behalf of the Resident Company. Our Heritage Award recipient could not be more appropriate for our Centennial Season -- CPH and Karamu House served the same neighborhood for nearly a century. We've been friends, neighbors and artistic colleagues throughout that time. We congratulate them on the 100th anniversary of their founding with the CPH Heritage Award."

Hall of Fame 2015/16 Inductees:

Jon Jory

As the Producing Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Jon Jory directed over 125 plays and produced over 1,000 during his 32-year tenure. He conceived the internationally lauded Humana Festival of New American Plays, the SHORTS Festival, and the Brown-Forman Classics-in-Context Festival. He was also the Artistic Founding Director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, and he has been inducted in New York's Theatre Hall of Fame.

Mr. Jory has directed professionally in nine nations, and in the United States has directed productions at many regional theatres including Washington's Arena Stage, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, Hartford Stage, the McCarter in Princeton, Guthrie Theatre, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has received the National Theatre Conference Award and ATA Distinguished Career Award. For his commitment to new plays, he has received the Margo Jones Award twice, the Shubert Foundation's James N. Vaughan Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement and Contribution to the Development of Professional Theatre, Carnegie Mellon's Commitment to Playwriting Award, and the Special Tony Award for Achievement in Regional Theatre. He currently teaches acting and directing at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

Cleveland Play House Resident Company 1921-88

Frederic McConnell was appointed Director of Cleveland Play House in 1921, bringing with him two extraordinary assistants: Actor/director K. Elmo Lowe and backstage manager Max Eisenstat. These three individuals became known as The Triumvirate, and one of their first actions was to form a Resident Company:

"With a passion for fine theatre, McConnell set about building a sound repertory system, the essence of which would initially be a company of amateur actors directed by a professional director with a permanent audience."

From these beginnings, the Resident Company became the backbone of The Play House and its primary mode of production for sixty-seven years. Soon after its formation as an amateur ensemble, the Resident Company professionalized and expanded to include directors and designers alongside a growing core of actors. Over time, many longstanding staff members throughout the organization came to be considered members of the Resident Company, working together to create exceptional theatre and education programs for the people of Northeast Ohio. Many members of the Resident Company hailed from Cleveland, while others came from all across the country to join what became one of pre-eminent ensembles in the United States. As part of the terms of a 1958 Ford Foundation grant, Resident Company actors became members of Actor's Equity Association.

Thousands of theatre professionals came to call CPH their home as members of the Resident Company, including CPH Hall of Fame members Margaret Hamilton, Maeve McGuire, David O. Frazier, Joe Garry, Dom DeLuise, Elijah Ford, Richard Gould, Evie McElroy, June Squibb, Jack Weston, Kirk Willis, Esther Mullin, Ruth Nelson, Paul Rodgers, Richard Halverson, Jack Lee, Hildegarde Stashower, Dorothy Paxton and Richard Oberlin.

CPH Heritage Award Recipient: Karamu House

At the same time that the Cleveland Play House was being founded in 1915, Russell and Rowena Jelliffe were launching what was then known as a "settlement house" in a nearby neighborhood. The Jelliffe's were social workers, and their purpose was to meet important social service and cultural needs in a rapidly changing, diverse and economically challenged community.

Within a couple of years, the Jelliffe's started producing children's theatre with interracial casts, reflecting the community that they served. The organization eventually became known as Karamu House, becoming one of the oldest African American theatre companies in the United States. For decades, CPH and Karamu House have been neighbors, colleagues and civic leaders.

There are many examples of connections between Karamu and CPH over the past 100 years. When Karamu's home burned down in 1939, CPH provided the Brooks Theatre as a temporary home for their plays (including a revue written by CPH legend Julia McCune Flory and directed by Rowena Jelliffe). In 1957, when longtime CPH production manager Max Eisenstat passed away, Karamu held a benefit performance to support an education fund for his two sons. In 1968, leading Karamu actor Nolan Bell became the first African American to join the CPH Resident Company, just one of countless artistic connections between the two companies. More recently, under the leadership of Artistic Director Terrance Spivey, Karamu was a partner in several editions of CPH's multi-disciplinary festival, FusionFest. Importantly, both Karamu and CPH committed themselves to diversity and inclusion from their very inception, goals they both pursue even a century later. Consider the following quote from CPH President Walter Flory in March of 1919:

"We must go into every nook and cranny, into the churches and the schools, the workshops and the market places, and seek those who have in them the seeds of those higher artistic aspirations which are seeking a means of expression. We must ignore creed and race and station and language and nationality."

CPH bestows Karamu House with the Heritage Award in honor of their centennial, their shared history, values and commitment to serving our great community through the art of theatre.

Please visit for details and RSVP info.

Sunday, October 25 • 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
Cibrèo Privato • 2037 E. 14th Street

Tickets are $100 (group tables for up to 10 are available for $1000 per table) of which a portion may be tax deductible. Call CPH Subscriber Services at 216.400.7096 to make your reservations.

Special Offer: Purchase any ticket to the Hall of Fame Luncheon and receive a 50% discount on your ticket to The Crucible (October 23 - 25 performances) and/or Joel Grey: Up Close and Personal (October 24 - 25 performances). Discount available only when eligible events are purchased at the same time through CPH Subscriber Services at 216.400.7096*

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America's first professional regional theatre and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award. Throughout its rich history, Cleveland Play House has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. It has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 CPH productions. Cleveland Play House looks toward its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

*Offer not valid with any other discount, promotion, or on prior sales. Valid on select seating locations.

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