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NGTF Returns With Collaborations In Community

Posted May 5, 2023 in Press Releases

(Cleveland, OH) Cleveland Play House (CPH) is thrilled to announce the 2023 New Ground Theatre Festival. The New Ground Theatre Festival (NGTF) is an annual celebration of new play development, in which CPH features workshops and public readings of plays, some of which are Cleveland-inspired and have been commissioned through the Roe Green Fund for New American Plays. This season, CPH leverages its partnerships within the Cleveland theatre community network by connecting talented playwrights with local theatre companies that might someday provide a home for them. The 2023 festival will run May 9-18, with all readings held in The Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre at Playhouse Square. Festival reading tickets are $5 and can be purchased exclusively at

Mark Cuddy, CPH Guest Artistic & Managing Director of the 2022-2023 Season says, “CPH has launched many premieres into the American Theatre canon, but they don’t just go from a playwright’s keyboard to fully produced on the stage.” Cuddy says, “Putting them through a new play development process that is underwritten by philanthropist Roe Green, and stewarded by CPH Literary Director Craig Joseph, is essential to their final drafts. And this year, we are thrilled to welcome other Cleveland theaters into a true festival of creation.”

Participating companies include the Blank Canvas Theater, LatinUs Theater Company, Seat of the Pants, and the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program. Each company will produce a reading of a play authored by a different playwright on one night of the festival. CPH will present two workshop readings, for a festival total of 6 public readings. Featured playwrights include Eric Coble, Caroline V. McGraw, Andrew Rosendorf, Tanya Saracho, Phillip Christian Smith, and May Treuhaft-Ali. The script selection tackles a broad and diverse scope of subject matter, addressing such topics as spirituality, eco-awareness, and classism.

“Each year, Cleveland Play House’s literary department receives hundreds of new play submissions of extraordinary merit,” says CPH Literary Director Craig Joseph. “The thought is that these readings will serve as a ‘test run’ to see how actors and audiences respond to the play, perhaps prompting local companies to give the play a full production in a subsequent season.” CPH is pleased to present two readings this season: Louder by Caroline V. McGraw and One-Shot by Andrew Rosendorf.

Playwright Caroline V. McGraw says, “I don't think it will be very hard to figure out that I was a teenager in Cleveland at the time the play takes place. I think every playwright in their 30s starts to turn to their teenage years for inspiration... there's certainly distance, but at the same time it still feels fresh.” McGraw says, “I wanted to write a play that shows women of faith with all their complexities and contradictions, while also exploring friendship, romance, coming-of-age, and the way that women's belief, passion, and hard work keeps all the institutions we care about running.”

Playwright Andrew Rosendorf says, “I grew up in video stores and I’ve always wanted to write a play about what video stores were for me. How they saved me and showed me I wasn’t alone. But I was never sure what that play was actually about — other than a setting I deeply loved.” Rosendorf shares that with the rising incidents surrounding homophobia and antisemitism, "I realized what the play needed to explore. That it needed to ask: ‘Where are our safe spaces? And what happens when the people we love make our safe spaces unsafe?’ The play emerged from there.”

CPH’s 2023 New Ground Theatre Festival accompanies the world premiere production of Ken Ludwig’s Moriarty: A New Sherlock Holmes Adventure, running through May 21. Directed by Mark Brokaw and Michael Barakiva, this new comic mystery from celebrated playwright Ken Ludwig is the centerpiece of the festival, having received a workshop reading at CPH in November 2022. The premiere acts as a sequel to the CPH’s 2017 production of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson join forces with American actress Irene Adler to take down the cunning criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty and his network of henchmen.

Roe Green is the Honorary Producer of the 2023 New Ground Theatre Festival.

Additional funding is provided by DLR Group and the Edwin D. Northrup II Fund.


All readings held in The Helen Lab Theatre, beginning at 7:30PM.

Comedy, Errors, Vanity, and Stupidity by Phillip Christian Smith
Produced by the CWRU/CPH MFA in Acting Program
Tuesday, May 9

A hilarious sequel to William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors! One year after the joyous reunification of two pairs of long-lost twins, Egeon’s secret that the twins are actually triplets comes to light, setting off a chain of chaotic events! Mistaken identities, love triangles, and a couple of new sisters thrown into the mix make this a delightful romp in both verse and prose.

Fade by Tanya Saracho
Produced by LatinUs Theater Company
Wednesday, May 10

When Lucia, a Mexican-born novelist, gets her first TV writing job, she feels a bit out of place on the white male-dominated set. Lucia quickly becomes friends with the only other Latino around, a janitor named Abel. As Abel shares his stories with Lucia, similar stories begin to find their way into the plots of the TV scripts that Lucia writes. Fade is a play about class and race, and how status does not change who you are at your core.

Louder by Caroline V. McGraw
Produced by Cleveland Play House
Thursday, May 11

1999. The eve of Y2K. And with it, comes the start of another school year at Ursuline Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cleveland. In the convent near campus, the sisters await the return of their students. But as fissures in the student body and faculty begin to appear — not to mention the approach of the 2000th year since Christ’s birth — five nuns find their ordinary lives suddenly enveloped by a strange uncertainty.

The First Snow of Summer by Eric Coble
Produced by Seat of the Pants
Tuesday, May 16

In the face of an oncoming disaster, a family regroups in the mountains of Colorado. As the clock ticks, old wounds open and new opportunities arise, even as mysterious omens encroach from the surrounding woods. This new play by local award-winning playwright Eric Coble examines the difficult question of who and what is worth saving when the end draws near.

Escapegoat by May Treuhaft-Ali
Produced by Blank Canvas Theater
Wednesday, May 17

Humans brought the goats to the Galápagos. The goats ate everything in sight. The islands dried up and the tortoises died out. In order to save the last living tortoise, the humans must exterminate the goats before it is too late. Escapegoat is an eco-parable about the species whose fates are inextricably linked to our own.

One-Shot by Andrew Rosendorf
Produced by Cleveland Play House
Thursday, May 18

It’s 1999, and Ellen has already come out on her TV show; Jack’s about to do the same on Dawson’s Creek. Meanwhile, David and Martín — two young video store employees, film buffs and best friends — are waiting to hear about a film scholarship to NYU that could change the trajectory of their lives. An exploration of privilege, identity and the ever-present celluloid closet.

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