Cleveland Play House

   Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House opened in 1916 with The Garden of Semiramis under the leadership of Raymond O'Neil. The amateur group produced 16 plays—all international classics by authors that included Kalidasa, Claudel, Andreyev, Molière, and Goldoni—in the five years before it turned professional in 1921. The story of those early years is the subject of a book titled The Cleveland Play House: How It Began (1965) by Julia M. Flory, one of the founders.
   In 1921, the Board of Trustees recognized the need for a professional operation and chose Frederic McConnell as director. In a converted church, he produced seasons of as many as 20 plays, though the repertoire remained predominantly European. Working with Play House president Charles S. Brooks, McConnell opened two theatres (one seating 160, the other 500) in the gardens of the Francis Drury estate. An additional, larger complex opened in 1949. McConnell was succeeded as director by K. Elmo Lowe, who guided the Play House through financial challenges until his retirement in 1969. After a difficult transition period, Richard Oberlin was named director in 1972. Oberlin modernized many aspects of the business operation, launched innovative community programs, and in 1983 oversaw the opening of a new Play House complex. Cleveland Play House today holds the record as the longest continuously operating regional repertory theatre in the United States.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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