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The Whipping Man Commands the Stage at Cleveland Play House

Posted October 12, 2012 in Press Releases

CLEVELAND, OH (October 12, 2012) – The 97th season of Cleveland Play House continues with a production of The Whipping Man, a drama by Matthew Lopez and directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Acclaimed in New York and around the country, The Whipping Man is a riveting story of freedom, friendship, and faith for three men whose lives come unraveled at the close of the Civil War. The Whipping Man begins in Cleveland Play House’s Second Stage at PlayhouseSquare on Friday, November 2 and runs through Sunday, November 25, 2012. Tickets are available by calling 216-241-6000 or going online at The Whipping Man is produced with support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council; promotional support courtesy of Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and Cleveland State University Black Studies Program.

“It’s no wonder that Matthew Lopez’s stock has skyrocketed in American theatre,” says Michael Bloom, Artistic Director. “The Whipping Man makes for a remarkable evening of theatre.”

Playwright Matthew Lopez brings to the stage one of the most original and thrilling new plays about the history of race, religious identity and what it means to be free. It is April, 1865, and the Civil War is drawing to a close. Caleb DeLeon, a Jewish Confederate soldier, returns wounded from the battlefield to find his family home in ruins, abandoned by everyone except Simon and John, two former slaves who were raised as Jews in the DeLeon home. As the three men reunite to celebrate Passover, they uncover a tangle of secrets... ties that bind them together and ultimately result in a new identity for each man.

As Lopez invites the audience to experience the rich complexity of the dynamic between Simon, Caleb, and John, he simultaneously illuminates some of the less well known realities during this tumultuous time in American history: the bankrupting of an economic system based on slave labor, the fleeing of wealthy slave-owning families in the aftermath of the Civil War, the blending of family margins between whites and their black slaves, and the interweaving of Jewish and African American lives and religious beliefs and customs.

The Whipping Man
first premiered in 2006 and recently completed an acclaimed, sold-out run at Manhattan Theatre Club. In 2011, Lopez was awarded the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award by the NY Outer Critics Circle and was recently named the 2012-13 Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. Lopez is also a staff writer for Academy and Emmy award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin on the HBO series The Newsroom.


SHAWN FAGAN (Caleb) played the title role in Wife to James Whelan at Mint Theater Company, earning him a Backstage Memorable New York Stage Performance of 2010 award. Other New York City acting credits include The Misanthrope at The Pearl,Peninsula at Soho Rep, Freakshow and Dearest Eugenia Haggis with Clubbed Thumb,Milk ‘n’ Honey and Ajax: 100% Fun with LightBox. Favorite regional theatre acting work includes Prince Hal/Henry V in The Making of a King: Henry IV & V at Playmakers Repertory Company; Hugh in The Voysey Inheritance at The Denver Center for the Performing Arts; Hamlet in the world premiere of Wittenberg at Arden Theatre Company; Texas in Intimations for Saxophone at Arena Stage, directed by Anne Bogart; The Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington D.C.); Dallas Theater Center; Arden Theatre Company; Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; American Players Theatre; and Utah and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festivals. For more information, visit

(John) is reprising the role of John from the west coast premiere of The Whipping Man at The Old Globe in San Diego, a production that was also directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Glymph most recently appeared in Race at Hartford TheaterWorks. Having acted on Broadway in The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival’s The Tempest, other New York credits include Troilus and Cressida and Antony and Cleopatra(both NYSF); “Hope” is the Thing With Feathers, The Drama Dept.; ‘Maid, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and McReele, Roundabout Theatre Company. Regional credits include Angels in America, Playmakers Repertory Company; The Overwhelming and Stick Fly, Contemporary American Theater Festival; Spunk and The Tempest, Actors Theatre of Louisville; Lost Creek Township, Crossroads Theatre (Regional Tony Award season); andFences at Cape Fear. He has made numerous film and television appearances. Glymph holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The North Carolina School of the Arts.

(Simon) is a New York City-based multidisciplinary theatre artist who hails from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He is an Obie Award winner for originating the role of Christian in 2009’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined and a Screen Actors Guild Award winner as part of the ensemble of Traffic. Other theatre work includes The Power of Duff, The Powerhouse Theater/Vassar; Our Lady of 121st Street, Union Square Theater; God, The Crackhouse and The Devil, La MaMa; and In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, Center Stage New York. A member of LAByrinth Theater Company since 1995, he has worked as a teaching artist throughout the New York tri-state area for 15 years and has served on LAByrinth’s education team since its inception, helping to create its master class and intensive ensemble workshops. Jones has been seen on four versions of Law & Order and never as the criminal. He is currently creating a theatrical exploration to empower cross-cultural dialogue about race called The Blind Spot.

Creative Team:

MATTHEW LOPEZ (Playwright) has seen his play The Whipping Man – since its New York premiere last year in a sold-out, extended run at Manhattan Theatre Club – become one of the most widely produced new American plays. The MTC production, directed by Doug Hughes and starring Andre Braugher, earned Lopez the John Gassner Playwriting Award from Outer Critics Circle. Before arriving in New York, The Whipping Man premiered at Luna Stage in Montclair, New Jersey, and was subsequently produced at Penumbra Theatre Company, Barrington Stage and The Old Globe. His play Somewhere premiered last year at The Old Globe under the direction of Giovanna Sardelli and will be re-mounted in January 2013 at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. Other works include Reverberation, The Legend of Georgia McBride and The Sentinels, which premiered last year in London. Lopez was recently named the 2012/13 Aetna Playwriting Fellow at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. He is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, a past member of the Ars Nova Play Group, and a recent artist-in-residence at The Old Globe. Lopez is also a staff writer on the HBO series The Newsroom.

(Director) collaborated with Matthew Lopez on the west coast premiere of The Whipping Man, for which she received an NAACP nomination for Best Director, and on the world premiere of his play Somewhere. Both productions were at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Sardelli has worked with native Ohio playwrights Theresa Rebeck – on the world premiere of her play Dead Accounts at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park – and on numerous world premieres with Rajiv Joseph includingThe North Pool, TheatreWorks and Barrington Stage Company; All This Intimacy, Second Stage Theatre; The Leopard and The Fox, AlterEgo Theatre; Huck & Holden, Cherry Lane Theatre; and Animals Out of Paper, Second Stage, for which she received the Joe A. Callaway Award for Outstanding Director. Her production of Lord of the Flies recently premiered at Barrington Stage Company, and she has developed plays with The Lark, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Sundance Institute, The Playwrights’ Center, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center among others. She spent two seasons as director of the Shakespeare Sedona Institute, two seasons as artistic director of Studio Tisch, and she was recently named resident director of The Dorset Theatre Festival, where she has numerous directing credits. Sardelli received her Master of Fine Arts in Acting from New York University and is also a graduate of their Directors’ Lab. She is on the faculty of the Graduate Acting and Dance Programs at NYU. Upcoming productions include Somewhereat TheatreWorks and The North Pool at the Vineyard Theatre.

The design team for The Whipping Man includes Robert Mark Morgan (Scenic Design), Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Denitsa Bliznakova (Costume Design), and James. C. Swonger (Sound Design). Also on the team: Stage Manager John Godbout.

Ticket Information

Single tickets
are on sale now; prices range from $49 to $69. Tickets are $15 for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid ID. For single tickets, please call 216-241-6000 or go online at Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027 or email
Special Events

InsideCPH: "Setting the Stage” – Sunday, 10/28 @ 2:30pm Learn how a set designer creates a fully-realized world on the stage from words on a two-dimensional page. We’ll talk with set designer Robert Mark Morgan and observe his set in action during The Whipping Man cast’s first on-stage rehearsal. Our monthly InsideCPH events—part of our CONNECTORS program— let you sit in on rehearsals, join exciting shop tours and designer demos, connect with CPH leaders and staff, and much more—ALL FOR FREE! To RSVP, email

Reading Club – Monday, 10/29 @ 6:30 p.m. - In a fun, social group setting, spend 75 minutes with a member of the CPH Artistic Staff, who will provide insight into the play itself and lead a lively discussion about how directors, actors, and designers put their skills to use in taking a play from the page to the stage.

Pre-show Conversations
– 45 minutes before every production. Led by CPH actors and staff, these interactive half-hour conversations pull back the curtain early to let you connect with the people, themes, ideas and creative choices that go into each production, in an engaging and relaxed setting.

Post-show Discussion
s – Sunday, 11/11; Tuesday, 11/3; Sunday, 11/18; Sunday, 11/25 – A chance to interact with the cast, creative team, local experts and fellow playgoers in a lively and wide-ranging discussion of each production and the questions it raises.

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