Photo Flash: First Look at Cleveland Public Theatre's CENTRAL CONCERN
Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) and Ohio City Theatre Project (OCTP) present Central Concern, a world premiere production conceived and directed by Pandora Robertson, OCTP Executive Artistic Director. The play will run May 18 - June 8, 2019, in CPT's James Levin Theatre.
Using music, humor, and bizarre bouffon theatricality, Central Concern is delightfully depraved and entertaining. Central Concern takes a satirical look at the history of the American real estate profession and how it championed property values at the expense of civil rights. Central Concern lives in the dramatic territory of bouffon, which uses distorted body shapes, costumes, humor, and mockery to make fact-based comments about society as a whole.
This production is highly interactive - the Central Concern experience is like stepping onto the pages of a comic strip. A band of bouffons break the barrier of the fourth wall allowing (and encouraging) audience members to be active participants in their experience. Bouffon theatricality, which uses distorted body shapes, costumes, humor, and mockery to make fact-based comments about society as a whole, is a modern French theatre term re-invented in the early 1960s by Jacques Lecoq at his L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. The word "bouffon" comes from the Latin verb buffare: to puff, to fill the cheeks with air, to deform oneself, to swell in order to provoke laughter. While the audience laughs at your typical clown, a bouffon laughs at (and is constantly fascinated by) the audience which means the audience's presence is what makes Central Concern come alive.
Central Concern is inspired by the madcap boom and bust cycles of Cleveland's real estate industry, and takes us from Moses Cleaveland and the Connecticut Land Company to the present day "great inversion." In its playful exploration of this history, Central Concern finds parallels and influences that shape our current political culture and leadership.
According to CPT's Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan: "We're grateful once again for the partnership with Ohio City Theatre Project. Pandora Robertson has been a longtime friend of the theatre and we love her work. It is outside of the box, speaks to important issues of today, and is surprising in so many ways. Central Concern marks the third World Premiere by Pandora onstage at CPT. Pandora is also a former Joan Yellen Horvitz Director Fellow and was part of the inaugural class of CPT Fellows. We're so excited to see what Pandora and her ensemble have come up with and can't wait to share it with you."
According to conceiver/director Pandora Robertson: "Imagine if Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's political satire Three Penny Opera told the story of how the real estate industry impacted segregation in Cleveland. Then picture this musical play living inside the delightfully grotesque world of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Central Concern aims to be edgy, funny, and entertaining."
Central Concern was originally performed as a 15-minute wandering piece as part of CPT's Station Hope, a jubilant community event celebrating Cleveland's social justice history and exploring contemporary struggles for freedom and equity. Central Concernhas performed throughout Cleveland at various venues and festivals, and has since been developed into a full, evening-length work.
Photo Credit: Steve Wagner
Jeannine Gaskin, Jonathan Apriesnig, Daniel McNamara