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CPH’s Next Installment of Theatre Thursday Explores Voting Rights in America

Posted October 13, 2020 in Press Releases

(Cleveland, OH) Cleveland Play House continues its virtual 105th Season with the second installment of the monthly series, Theatre Thursday: Ohio Votes! on October 15th at 7:00 pm. Hosted by Artistic Director Laura Kepley and Artistic Directing Fellow Stori Ayers, the October edition includes performances of plays as well as conversations with expert panelists exploring America’s complicated history with voting. Tickets to Theatre Thursday are Pay What You Can starting at $5, and are available at

KeyBank is Presenting Sponsor of the 2020-21 Theatre Season at Cleveland Play House.

The right to vote is at the core of our democracy. And yet, it has a long and complicated history in the United States. Interweaving performance featuring leading historical figures and activists with conversation and insights from local politicians and community leaders, this not-to-be-missed event will explore voting rights in the past, present, and future.

The evening includes three performances from: The Agitators by Mat Smart, Thurgood by George Stevens, Jr., and a short play When Statues Fall by Loy A. Webb. The performance pieces take us on a journey through the history of voting rights in America beginning in the 19th Century, moving into the mid-20th Century, and ending in 2020.

Artistic Director Laura Kepley states, “The scenes and short play in October’s Theatre Thursday do what theatre does best by exploring the most pressing issues of the day in a way that is provocative, entertaining, and dramatic. Two of the scenes take place in the past, but the arguments, struggles and pressures feel very of the moment as the characters grapple with the ways to move forward. And in our final short play, When Statues Fall, we have the rare opportunity to witness the current moment as it is happening—this exciting new play by Loy A. Webb was written mere weeks before this Theatre Thursday event. This play is the Cleveland Play House directing debut of Artistic Directing Fellow Stori Ayers.”

Stori Ayers shares, “Voting is at the center of our democracy, yet it has such a long and complicated history.” Ayers continues, “The performances and conversation in October will examine that history and ask a very important question: How do you get someone who doesn't believe they matter to believe that their vote does?”

Ayers makes her CPH directorial debut with When Statues Fall. Ayers shares, “I'm looking forward to directing Loy A. Webb’s piece. She’s a smart and talented writer who is exploring the collective power behind voting. The characters are interesting, their relationship is engaging, the play itself is funny and moving.

The panel of experts include: Jen Miller, Executive Director of League of Women Voters – OHIO; Anthony W. Perlatti, Director of Cuyahoga County Board of Elections; Loy A. Webb, playwright, attorney, and theatre journalist; and special guest Peter Lawson Jones, attorney, business consultant, professional actor and playwright, and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner.


A scene from THE AGITATORS

Written by Mat Smart

Directed by Logan Vaughn

Featuring Madeline Lambert as “Susan B. Anthony” & Cedric Mays as “Frederick Douglass”

The Agitators tells the compelling and complex story of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. First meeting in Rochester in 1849, the two struck up a friendship and went on to be allies and adversaries for the next 45 years. The scene focuses on their differing opinions on the 15th Amendment, which granted African American men the right to vote.


An excerpt from THURGOOD

Written by George Stevens, Jr.

Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III

Featuring Wendell B. Franklin as “Thurgood Marshall”

Thurgood is a tour-de-force solo show about “Mr. Civil Rights,” Thurgood Marshall. Armed with the US Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall devoted his life to championing justice and equality for all people, including the right to vote. In the play, Marshall takes us on his transformative journey from his early days as a young lawyer upending the landmark “separate but equal” decision to his time serving on the highest court in the nation.



Written by Loy A. Webb

Directed by Stori Ayers, CPH Artistic Directing Fellow

Featuring Jillian Macklin as “Ray” and Marcus Callender as “EK”

a short play commissioned by Cleveland Play House

Set on the day after the Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Decision, When Statues Fall has us join life-long social and racial justice activist Ray on her live Instagram as she interviews her best friend, EK, a man who has never voted. A necessary, humorous, and honest conversation unfolds as these two friends unpack a recent experience at a protest and look to the future.



Mat Smart (Playwright) has written 25 full-length plays that have been produced around the United States. His play The Agitators, about the friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, was in the midst of 15 different productions from Maine to Seattle before COVID-19 shut down live performances. Select plays include: Kill Local (La Jolla Playhouse, nominated for Outstanding New Play by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle), The Royal Society of Antarctica (Gift Theatre, recipient of the 2015 Jeff Award for Best New Work in Chicago), Samuel J. and K. (Williamstown Theatre Festival; Steppenwolf for Young Adults), Naperville (Slant Theatre Project; Theatre Wit), Tinker to Evers to Chance (Geva; Merrimack Rep; Artistry), and The Hopper Collection (Magic Theatre; Huntington). Next season, Raven Theatre in Chicago will produce the world premiere of his play Eden Prairie, 1971. Mat has received two Jerome Fellowships, a McKnight Advancement Grant, two Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards, and was the recipient of the 2014 Otis Guernsey New Voices Award from the William Inge Center for the Arts. An avid traveler and baseball fan, Mat has been to all of the states, all of the continents, and all of the current MLB stadiums. A native of Naperville, Illinois, he currently lives in Manhattan.

Logan Vaughn (Director) is a New York based Artist and Director of new work. In 2008 Logan was awarded the Goodman Theater's prestigious Joyce Arts Fellowship in Casting and subsequently worked as a Casting Director in the Tony Award winning theaters' casting department for five seasons. In addition to the Goodman she has cast for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory, Cardinal Stage and Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. Logan was Playwrights Horizons Director in Residence 2012-2013. In 2012 Logan was also named a Member of the Director's Lab, Lincoln Center. As a Director she has worked with The Public Theater, MCC Theater, Sundance, Kansas City Rep Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Apollo Theater, Geva Theatre, Playwrights' Center, The Playwrights Realm, Mosaic Theatre, 59E59, National Black Theatre and NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her work in film includes assisting the Academy Award winning producing team behind Precious and Monster's Ball as well as serving as head of casting for several award-winning independents. Logan received a 2019 Outer Critics Circle nomination for Best Direction of a Play for the New York premiere of Loy A. Webb's The Light at MCC Theater. And most recently directed the World Premiere of Legacy Land (The Kilroys List 2020) by Stacey Rose at Kansas City Repertory Theater. Logan is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Acting at UMKC and the Associate Artistic Director of Ojai Playwrights Conference. In television she has shadowed for HBO, the FOX Network (APB) and the Paramount Network (WACO Mini-Series). Logan trained professionally as a dancer for fifteen years with various companies including Gus Giordano and Visceral Dance. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film from Columbia College Chicago and has been featured in national and international publications including Glamour, Essence, Lucky and Globetrotter Magazine.

Madeleine Lambert (Susan B. Anthony): Theatre credits: The Agitators (Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Geva Theatre Center);How I Learned to Drive (Cleveland Play House and Syracuse Stage);The Humans (Geva Theatre Center and Syracuse Stage); 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Alabama Story (Alabama Shakespeare Festival);Steel Magnolias, A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Company); It’s a Wonderful Life, The Children's Hour,Marie Antoinette, Blackbird, Anne Boleyn (The Gamm Theatre); Cock, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof(Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater); Uncle Jack (Boston Playwrights' Theatre); Small Craft Warnings,The Time of Your Life (The Williams Project); Grounded, Middletown, At The Vanishing Point(Manbites Dog Theatre Company). Television credits: Empire and Chicago PD. Madeleine received her M.F.A. in Acting from Brown University/Trinity Rep and her B.A. from Duke University. She is a graduate of and instructor at The School at Steppenwolf and has been adjunct faculty in the Theater Studies Department at Duke University. Madeleine is an award-winning audiobook narrator. 


George Stevens, Jr.’s (Playwright) interest in Thurgood Marshall began with a miniseries he wrote and directed, Separate but Equal, the story of the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation case on which Marshall was the lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Stevens is the founder of the American Film Institute and a writer, director, and producer. Film: The Thin Red Line; George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey; John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums; The Diary of Anne Frank. TV: Separate but Equal (Sidney Poitier, Burt Lancaster), The Murder of Mary Phagan (Jack Lemmon, Peter Gallagher, Kevin Spacey), The Kennedy Center Honors, The American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards, America’s Millennium, D-Day to Berlin. Alfred A. Knopf recently published his book, Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Awards: two Emmys, eight Writers Guild of America Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards.

Steve H. Broadnax III (Director) directed CPH’s 2019 acclaimed production of Pipeline. Directing credits include various shows and theatre’s nationally and internationally including: Signature Theatre NYC, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Hattiloo Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Ensemble Studio Theatre Company NYC, Chautauqua Theatre, People’s Light Theatre, Apollo Theatre NYC, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Atlantic Theatre NYC, Detroit Public, Baltimore Center Stage, The Black Theatre Troupe (Phoenix, AZ), Arkansas Rep, Moore Theatre (Seattle), Market Theatre (Johannesburg SA), Edinburgh Fringe Festival, National Arts Festival (South Africa), and The Adelaide Arts Festival (Australia). The Hip Hop Project, an award-winning, full-length original play directed, choreographed, and conceived by Steve, has toured nationally, and was showcased at D.C.’s Kennedy Center. Other writings: American Taboo, Camouflage (Eugene O’Neil semifinalist), and Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland (2020 world premiere, People’s Light). Member: Actors’ Equity, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Ensemble Studio Theatre, National Theatre Conference. Training: BFA Conservatory of Fine Arts Webster University, MFA Penn State University. Steve is a Professor of Theatre at Penn State University.

Wendell B. Franklin (Thurgood Marshall) has worked professionally at several theatres and venues across the Country, including Atlantic Theatre Company (world premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew, directed by Ruben Santiago Hudson), People’s Light and Theatre Company (Fences directed by Kamilah Forbes), The Billie Holiday Theatre (world premiere of Brothers from the Bottom by Jackie Alexander starring Wendell Pierce and Kevin Mambo), The Culture Project (Speak Truth to Power directed by Terry Kinney), Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company (co-production of Ruined directed by Liesl Tommy), Cleveland Play House (Gee’s Bend), Virginia Stage Company (Raisin in the Sun), Weston Playhouse (Raisin in the Sun, Master Harold…and the Boys), Arkansas Rep. (Fences), Illinois Shakes (Julius Caesar, Pericles and Comedy of Errors), Lincoln Center (workshop of Pipeline) and Sundance Theatre Institute (Skeleton Crew and Between the World and Me). TV: The Good Fight, Madam Secretary, Elementary and Law & Order.


Loy A. Webb (Playwright) is a Chicago born playwright, attorney, and theatre journalist. Her plays include The Light (MCC Theater, Outer Critics Circle nomination for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play; and The New Colony, Joseph Jefferson Award), and His Shadow (16th Street Theater). She was an inaugural Tutterow Fellow at Chicago Dramatists, and as a theatre journalist she is a member of the Association of Women of Journalist-Chicago, a past mentor with the AWJ-Chicago/Goodman Theatre’s Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program, and a contributing theater critic for Newcity. Loy holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a J.D. from The John Marshall Law School. Loy is a writer for AMC’s NOS4A2.

Stori Ayers (Director) is a New York-based actress, director, and co-founder of [RARE] Lotus Productions. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, holds a B.A. from Mary Baldwin University, an MFA in Acting from Penn State University, and is the former Executive Assistant to playwrights Dominique Morisseau and Katori Hall. She is currently a writing assistant to Dominique Morisseau and Adjunct Professor of Theater at Penn State University. Stori is an original cast member and producer of Morisseau’s Blood at the Root, winner of the Graham F. Smith Peace Foundation Prize for its promotion of human rights. She recently played Regina, childhood best friend of Tiffany Haddish, on the TBS hit series The Last O.G., starring Tracey Morgan.

Jillian Macklin (Ray) is an Actor and Voiceover Artist from the DC Metropolitan Area. She has an MFA in Acting from the New School for Drama and is also an Alumna of Spelman College. Her select credits include Voiceovers for Ideal Image, Goodwill, Ad Council, IHOP radio and Children’s Mercy Hospital. TV/Film on The Last O.G, The God Committee, and Student Loan Dreams: Debt and Determination. On stage in Self-Portraits, Ah Sweeter Lyme, and Mutt: Let’s All Talk About Race. Union Affiliation: SAG-AFTRA.

Marcus Callender (EK), a proud Brooklyn native, can currently be seen on Hulu’s hit series Wu-Tang: An American Saga playing Oliver “Power” Grant. TV: Power (Starz), New Amsterdam (NBC), Evil (CBS), Shades of Blue (NBC), Blindspot (NBC). Regional Theatre: Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine by Lynn Nottage at Signature Theatre. His mentorship work includes original works with MCC’s Youth Theatre Company. Marcus is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory.


Registration for Theatre Thursday is required in advance. Viewing access is Pay What You Can starting at $5 per household. The event will be broadcast on ZOOM and can be viewed on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Patrons can purchase viewing tickets exclusively by visiting

Theatre Thursday is a monthly interactive virtual event which allows audiences to experience the artistry of CPH, connect directly with the makers of our work, and converse with staff and other audience members about the impact of our artistic work in our beloved community. Events take place on the third Thursday of each month through April 2021. All events at 7:00 pm. For more information, please visit:

CPH Digital Pass Subscriptions are now available starting at $150. Subscribers receive premium access to artistic programming and special events throughout the virtual season. Passes are available exclusively by visiting

KeyBank is Presenting Sponsor of the 2020-2021 Theatre Season at Cleveland Play House.


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. To learn more, visit:


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