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Antigone Brings an Epic Tale Reimagined to Cleveland Play House

Posted March 2, 2020 in Press Releases

CLEVELAND, OH (March 2, 2020) Cleveland Play House (CPH) reimagines the epic Greek tragedy Antigone with a contemporary interpretation, freely adapted by Emily Mann from the ancient play written by Sophocles. Performances begin March 28th, 2020 and continue through April 19th, 2020 in the intimate Outcalt Theatre at Playhouse Square. Led by Director Lauren Keating, the cast features Amara James Aja, Alex Brightwell, Mariah Burks, Conor Canning, Kasey Connolly, Comfort Dolo, Steve Gladstone, Gregory James, Jessica Ko, Vanessa Morosco, Fabio Polanco, Abdul Seidu, Laura Starnik and Elisabeth Yancey. Cleveland Play House is proud to recognize DLR Group/Westlake Reed Leskosky as Presenting Sponsor of Antigone.

A war-torn nation struggles for peace and unity. The newly appointed female King, Creon, stands for law and order. But her niece Antigone kneels for justice. Neither will yield, and a fatal battle of wills rages. Pushed to extremes, who will bend and who will break? This high-stakes, timeless tale burns with contemporary relevance, as age and youth clash over the future of their country.

The third of The Oedipus Trilogy, this fresh adaptation by acclaimed playwright Emily Mann speaks to 21st century audiences. The all-female creative team is composed of artists making their debut at CPH. The team will be led by Director Lauren Keating, Associate Producer of The Guthrie Theater. Set in a dystopian near future, this fast-action drama will feature scenic design elements inspired by Cleveland’s City Hall. Musical components will include percussion to dictate the mood and omnipresence of war, and the costume design will interpret the “near future” concept with silhouettes that are gender-fluid.

“This production of Antigone is a parable or allegory commenting on a dystopian near future, and we welcome audiences to question their own place in their current system. We want to emphasize the importance of female leadership and the surrounding pressure and scrutiny surrounding the system, ” says director Lauren Keating. “Antigone bares the harsh consequences of what will happen to us if we continue to follow racist, sexist, and ableist attitudes.”

CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley adds, “This production of Antigone will be raw, visceral and breathtaking. Greek drama is able to captivate audiences in the same way action movies do. The show is fast and furious with life and death stakes. Ideas, desires, and factions crash head first into each other. We race along getting caught up in the action. It isn’t until the end that we are stunned by the wreckage and collateral damage.”

The Creative Team

LAUREN KEATING (Director) is a director of new and classic theatrical work, narrative film, and site-specific events. She is committed to work that centers marginalized voices and seeks to engage audiences in imaginative, personal explorations of complex and urgent questions. Keating made her off-Broadway debut with Josh Koenigsberg’s Al’s Business Cards. Her regional directing work includes the 2017–2019 productions of the Guthrie Theater’s A Christmas Carol; Small Mouth Sounds at Jungle Theater; Rhinoceros with 7th House Theater; Lulu, Learning Russian and Charlotte’s Web at Hangar Theatre; Translations at Yale University Dramatic Association and the development of The Antony and Cleopatra Project with Tarell Alvin McCraney for McCarter Theatre Center’s Youth Conservatory. Workshops include L M Feldman’s Fill Our Mouths with Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Pugilist Specialist and Seagulls with Williamstown Theatre Festival; and Sarah Burgess’ Camdenside with Studio 42. Keating has developed work with many organizations, including The Public Theater, Playwrights’ Center, Ars Nova, 3LD, Woodshed Collective, The Old Vic, Dixon Place, and The Flea Theater. Her adaptations of classic works include Wedekind’s Lulu, Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, and Measure for Measure. Keating is a Mellon Foundation/TCG Leadership U Fellow, Time Warner Foundation Fellow, and Drama League Fellow. She is the Associate Producer at the Guthrie Theater, an NYU/Tisch alumnus, and a proud member of the Alliance of Women Directors. Her work for the screen includes “The Feminist Cooking Show” (web series) and Power Out (short film). Learn more at

EMILY MANN (Adaptor) is a multi-award winning playwright and director in her 30th and final season as Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of McCarter Theatre, Princeton, N.J. During her tenure, Emily wrote 15 new plays and adaptations, directed over 50 productions, produced nearly 180 plays and musicals, supported the work of emerging and legendary playwrights, received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater, commissioned the Tony Award-winning play Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike by Christopher Durang, and opened the beautiful Roger S. Berlind Theatre. McCarter directing credits include: acclaimed productions by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, and Williams and the world premieres of Christopher Durang’s Turning Off the Morning News and Miss Witherspoon; Ken Ludwig’s Murder on the Orient Express; Rachel Bonds’ Five Mile Lake; Danai Gurira’s The Convert; Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why; and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I. Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire, Anna in the Tropics, Execution of Justice, and Having Our Say. Plays: Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth; Execution of Justice; Still Life; Annulla, An Autobiography; Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; Mrs. Packard, and Hoodwinked (a Primer on Radical Islamism). Adaptations: Baby Doll, Scenes from a Marriage, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, A Seagull in the Hamptons, The House of Bernarda Alba, and Antigone. Currently in development: The Pianist. Her newest play Gloria: A Life about the legacy of Gloria Steinem opened McCarter’s season this year after a successful run in New York at The Daryl Roth Theater. Awards: Peabody, Hull Warriner, NAACP, 7 Obies, Guggenheim; Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; a Princeton University Honorary Doctorate of Arts, a Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights' Award, the Margo Jones Award given to a "citizen-of-the-theater who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theater everywhere”. This past June, she was awarded the TCG Visionary Leadership Award. In November, Ms. Mann was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

The Design Team for Antigone includes: scenic design by COURTNEY O’NEILL; costume design by SARA RYUNG CLEMENT; lighting design by KARIN OLSON; music direction by NATHAN MOTTA; sound design by MEGAN CULLEY; voice & text coach ROBERT RAMIREZ, movement consultant KEVIN INOUYE; casting by JUDY BOWMAN, CSA. Additional creative team members include: JULIA ROSA SOSA (Assistant Director), and JOHN GODBOUT (Production Stage Manager).


The cast of ANTIGONE includes:

AMARA JAMES AJA (Haemon) is making his Cleveland Play House debut. His New York credits include The White Devil with Red Bull Theater and Tender Napalm at HERE Arts Center. Amara has worked regionally around the country, including at The Old Globe, The Barter Theatre, The Argyle Theatre, and the Oregon Symphony. He holds an MFA from the University of San Diego/Old Globe, and a Bachelors in Government from Cornell University.

ALEX BRIGHTWELL (Chorus 2) was most recently seen in Every Brilliant Thing at Cleveland Play House. He was born in West Virginia, raised in North Carolina, and earned his BFA from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. He was a Conservatory member for the 2018 and 2019 seasons at the Chautauqua Theater Company, where he played Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Alfie in One Man, Two Guvnors; Silvius in As You Like It; and Br’er Rabbit/Ratts in An Octoroon. Other Cleveland credits include the New Ground Theater Festival reading of Tiny Houses and the CWRU/CPH MFA productions of The Merchant of Venice, Hay Fever, The Seagull, and Fifth of July. He has also been seen at Yellow Tree Theater, Minnesota Jewish Theatre, Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Public Theater of Minnesota, and the Guthrie Theater.

MARIAH BURKS (Antigone) was last seen in Clue as the Cook here at CPH! Other CPH credits: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, understudy for Sister Rosetta Tharpe/Marie Knight in Marie and Rosetta, Shakespeare in Love, and New Ground Theatre Festival: The Nolan Williams Project. An alumni of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program Class of 2018. Credits include: Macbeth, Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, Clybourne Park, and She Stoops to Conquer. A graduate of Bowling Green State University’s Musical Theatre Program. Credits: Spring Awakening, Legally Blonde, Book of Days, and more. Recipient of the National Irene Ryan Scholarship Acting Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC. Regional and local theatre work includes: Caroline, or Change (Tantrum Theatre) and RAGTIME (Cain Park). Instagram: @mv_broadway

CONOR CANNING (Aide 3/Messenger) was born and raised in Alford, Massachusetts. He is a 2016 graduate of Georgetown University where he majored in Political Economy and minored in Theater and Performance Studies. During his time in the CWRU/CPH MFA program, Conor has played Lorzeno in The Merchant of Venice, Simon Bliss in Hay Fever, Medvenko in The Seagull, and Jed Jenkins in Fifth of July. Other notable credits include playing Joe Cooper in Killer Joe, Stacey Kinsella in The Metal Children, and Angelo in Measure for Measure.

KASEY CONNOLLY (Aide 2/Messenger) came to the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program from New York City where she attended the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU. While there, she focused primarily on classical texts and performed in Hamlet; Mother Courage; and an all-female, democratically directed production of Julius Caesar. Cleveland credits include understudy for Maggie Dalton in Into the Breeches! at Cleveland Play House and the CPH New Ground Theatre Festival readings of Christina, Tiny Houses, and Cicada. As a member of the CWRU/CPH MFA acting program, she's appeared onstage in The Merchant of Venice, Hay Fever, The Seagull, and The Fifth of July. Film credits: Apprehending Edmund Montrell and A Way Home.

COMFORT DOLO (Chorus 3) was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and raised in friendly Fridley, Minnesota. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN with double majors in Honors Theatre and Communication Studies. Favorite credits include: To Kill a Mockingbird (The Guthrie Theater) and TOUCH, a remake of the 1984 Emmy Award winning film (Illusion Theater). She recently made her Cleveland Play House debut in Into the Breeches! (Ida Green) while also understudying the role of Jasmine in Pipeline. CWRU/CPH Credits include: Jessica and Salarino (The Merchant of Venice); Sorel Bliss (Hay Fever); Sorin (The Seagull); Shirley (Fifth of July). Naomi in Sugar (Phoenix Theater), Carlos Sirah’s The Utterances (The Playwright’s Center).

STEVE GLADSTONE (Teiriesias) a blind actor, is usually cast as sighted characters, and is delighted to be authentically playing the blind Teiriesias on the CPH stage. Having received his Bachelor's degree from the University of Florida, he has been featured on regional stages over the past 40 years: Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show are among his favorite roles. He has shared the set in feature films alongside Michael Caine, Dom DeLuise and James Woods. Steve appeared in the original “Miami Vice” TV series and was featured in MTV’s "Runaway Love." Steve served as the Miami Local SAG-AFTRA president for 15 years and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association. He is also the in-house blogger for promoting literacy through the reading of materials for blind and physically handicapped adults and children.

GREGORY JAMES (Guard) is excited to be making his CPH and Equity debut. He is a member of the Cleveland sketch comedy duo Flamingo City and is a sketch writing student of Michael Busch. Stage credits: Male Understudy in Clue (Cleveland Play House); Lucio in Measure for Measure, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and Brooke in Little Women (Oberlin Summer Theater Festival); Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, David in Hay Fever, Trigorin in The Seagull, and John in Fifth of July (CWRU/CPH). LA theatre credits include Summer and Smoke, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Lend Me a Tenor (Actors Co-Op Theatre Hollywood), and Some Girl(s) (LA Fringe). Gregory was a founding member of the Whitefire Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Film credits: Jilted for Glamour Magazine, Slow Clap Comedy, and the Actors Co-Op Series, The Fur is Gone. @GregoryJamesActing

JESSICA KO (Ismene) has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the last 3 seasons: Rosalind in As You Like It, the lead Dou Yi in the US premiere of Snow in Midsummer, Shapeshifter in the world premiere of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, and Princess Katherine/Boy/Montjoy in Henry V. Other regional credits include Chautauqua Theatre Company (Our Town, Henry V), Trinity Repertory Company (world premiere of The Hunchback of Seville), Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (Love’s Labour’s Lost, Tartuffe), and Bread Loaf Theatre Ensemble (Troilus and Cressida). In New York, she has worked at the Flea Theater, The Hearth, Urban Stages, Gallery Players, and co-founded her own company, Random Access Theatre, which partnered with Brooklyn Bridge Park to bring free Shakespeare to its outdoor programming. Television credits include national commercials for Chase, Yoplait, and Lowes. She is a proud Brown/Trinity Rep MFA graduate.

VANESSA MOROSCO (Creon) Hard Cell (Geva Theatre Center); Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, What the Butler Saw (The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); Arcadia, House of Blue Leaves (Palm Beach Dramaworks); Disgraced, Frost/Nixon (Maltz Jupiter Theatre); Importance of Being Earnest (Shakespeare Theatre Company, DC); Way of the World (Yale Rep); The 39 Steps, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); The Tempest, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, Henry VI Part 1, Othello, Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing (Colorado Shakespeare Festival); Lend Me a Tenor (Fulton Theatre); Around the World in 80 Days (Off-Broadway); One Man, Two Guvnors, Dancing Lessons (Florida Studio Theatre); Love’s Labour’s Lost (Folger Theatre); School for Scandal (PICT Classic Theatre); and 7 seasons with the American Shakespeare Center. Vanessa is also a director and teacher with an expertise in Original Practice Shakespeare, is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, and holds an MA from Yale in ethics.

FABIO POLANCO (Aide 1/Messenger) has previously appeared at Cleveland Play House in These Mortal Hosts, The Crucible, A Grand Night for Singing, The Grapes of Wrath and the reading of Informed Consent. He most recently appeared in Man of La Mancha at Porthouse Theatre. Other credits: Broadway national tour of Les Misérables, and performances at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Great Lakes Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Signature Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Cain Park, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Repertory Theatre of St Louis, Musical Theatre Project, Cleveland Musical Theatre, Dobama Theatre, and Idaho Shakespeare Festival. His film and television credits include An American Pickle, The Next Three Days, The Ides of March, The Lifeguard, Pups United, and Downward Dog. Fabio holds an M.F.A. from Case Western Reserve University. He is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Kent State University and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association since 1996.

ABDUL SEIDU (Chorus 1) graduated summa cum laude from Kent State with a BA in Theatre Arts. He has recently been seen in the CRSHD world premiere in the Tribeca Film Festival. Also look out for him on Amazon Prime Video in I'm Your Woman. Abdul is happy to take the stage one last time with his CWRU/CPH MFA teammates. Last seen in Cleveland in productions of Hay Fever, The Seagull, and Merchant of Venice. Instagram: @AbdultheAfrican

LAURA STARNIK (Eurydice) last appeared in Cleveland Play House’s production of All The Way and the CWRU/CPH MFA production of The Three Sisters. She recently appeared in Tom At The Farm at convergence-continuum, and By The Bog of Cats and Well at Ensemble Theatre. Other credits include: Lady Windermere’s Fan (Mamai Theatre Company); A Kid Like Jake (none too fragile); and Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars, Becky Shaw, Humble Boy, Middletown, and Sons of the Prophet (Dobama Theatre).

ELISABETH A. YANCEY (Chorus 4) was most recently onstage with Cleveland Play House as Yvette in Clue and Grace Richards in Into the Breeches!. Other credits with CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program include The Merchant of Venice, Hay Fever, The Seagull, and Fifth of July. Internationally, Elisabeth performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the world premiere of Call of the Void. Other favorite credits include CPH’s New Ground Theatre Festival in Cicada and Christina, and the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival in Romeo and Juliet and Little Women, as well as work with Wellesley Repertory Theatre. Elisabeth holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Wellesley College, a certificate of classical acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and a certificate of literature from Cambridge University. Insta: @elisabethyancey

Ticket Information

Tickets range from $20-$97, with $15 rush tickets for currently enrolled students (valid student ID required). Young Professional discounts are available with our YP-CPH Membership. Ohio Direction/EBT cardholders receive $5 admission to any performance for up to 8 tickets. CPH is a proud Blue Star Theatre and offers military members a 50% discount on tickets to any performance throughout the season. Military members interested in attending use the promo code: BLUST to receive the discount. All discount programs are subject to availability.

Single tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 216.241.6000 or by visiting Groups of 10 or more can save up to 30% off single ticket prices by contacting CPH Groups Sales at 216.400.7011. Subscriptions are still available at the best low rates with amazing perks. Subscribe today and save up to 30%, with flexible small packages available, by calling the CPH Subscription Office at 216.640.8800 or by visiting


CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH 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 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Cleveland Play House is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.


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