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CPH Appoints Michael Barakiva as Artistic Director

Posted December 5, 2023 in Press Releases

(Cleveland, Ohio) Cleveland Play House announced today that New York director, producer, and novelist Michael Barakiva has been named as permanent artistic director of the Tony Award winning theatre. Barakiva returns to Cleveland having just directed CPH’s critically acclaimed production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He also served as co-director of CPH’s world premiere production of Ken Ludwig’s Moriarty: A New Sherlock Holmes Adventure. His tenure begins immediately.

Barakiva says, “I am deeply honored to serve as the tenth Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House, our country's premiere professional regional theater.” He continues to share, “I fell in love with Cleveland and CPH last spring, when I first came to work here, and fell in love all over again when I was lucky enough to return and direct Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I am eagerly anticipating working with Managing Director Rachel Fink, CPH Board Chair Mike Meehan, and the entire CPH Board and staff to lead this institution into its next chapter.”

CPH Managing Director Rachel L. Fink says, “It is an exciting moment to welcome Michael Barakiva as our new Artistic Director at Cleveland Play House. His rich artistic experience, boundless enthusiasm, and unwavering commitment to community align seamlessly with our organizational values.”

Michael Barakiva is an Armenian-Israeli American director and writer who has staged new plays, revivals, and classics in New York City and around the country. In addition to the CPH productions, Barakiva’s work has been seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Primary Stages, Syracuse Stage, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and the Hangar Theatre, where he served as Artistic Director. He founded The Upstart Creatures, a theatre company that creates community through performance and food, as well as the Leadership Initiative Project, which equips historically excluded artists with the tools to succeed in leadership positions. Barakiva has received three Drama League directing fellowships, the Phil Killian Directing Fellowship (OSF), the David Merrick Prize in Drama, and was a Granada Artist-in-Residence at UC Davis. He led a week-long workshop on musical theatre at the International Puppet Theater in Sofia, Bulgaria, and was a presenter at the International University Theatre Festival at UNAM in Mexico City. He served as producer of Summer Camp 6 (Soho Rep) and as the Readings and Workshops Coordinator at New York Stage and Film, as well as a Primary Coach on Season 2 of MTV’s Made. As a writer, Barakiva is the recipient of a Red Bull Commission for his adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, an EST/Sloan Project Commission, and a co-author of String Theory (Connotation Press). His young adult novels have been named to the Rainbow List, Equality Family Council Reading List, The Barnes and Noble’s Perfect Valentine’s Day YA Novels list, spending over a year as Goodreads #1 LGBTQ YA Novel. Education: Vassar College, The Juilliard School.

CPH Board Chair Michael Meehan says, “Cleveland Play House is thrilled to welcome Michael Barakiva as the tenth Artistic Director in its storied 108-year history.” Meehan says, “Michael’s infectious enthusiasm, extraordinary talent, and national recognition will further enable this iconic organization to produce great theatre and arts education programming in Northeast Ohio.”

Tim Bond, Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival, shares his enthusiasm for Barakiva’s appointment by saying, “As all of us in the world of theatre face an inflection point of identity, purpose, and sustainability, I am thrilled that my longtime friend and colleague, Michael Barakiva, will join Cleveland Play House as its next Artistic Director.” Bond says, “Michael brings an artistic vision rooted in an unwavering belief in the transformative power of theatre to celebrate and bring people from all backgrounds together. Barakiva has that rare combination of being a compassionate leader, deeply engaged artist, and an active participant in community that will advance Cleveland Play House for many years to come.”

Fink says, “I am confident that his welcoming approach will enhance the vibrant tapestry of our theatre and resonate with audiences throughout Northeast Ohio. I eagerly anticipate a collaborative and inspiring working partnership with Michael as we shape the future of Cleveland Play House together."

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