The Playwrights' Unit is a group of experienced, accomplished playwrights from the Cleveland area who receive creative and administrative support from Cleveland Play House. The Unit meets regularly with Associate Artistic Director Laura Kepley, where they read their works-in-progress and provide each other with feedback. Many of the plays developed in the Playwrights' Unit have been produced by Cleveland Play House, other Cleveland area theatres, and across the United States. Admission into the Playwrights' Unit is by invitation.
Eric Coble was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and raised on the Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado. His plays include Bright Ideas, The Dead Guy, Natural Selection, For Better, and The Giver and have been produced Off-Broadway, throughout the U.S., and on several continents, including productions at Manhattan Class Company, The Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Alliance Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, Asolo Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Coterie Theatre, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Stages Repertory, and The Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Awards include an Emmy nomination, the AT&T Onstage Award, National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, the AATE Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, a TCG Extended Collaboration Grant, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Grants.
Mike Geither is an Associate Professor at Cleveland State University where he teaches in the English Department and the Northeast Ohio MFA (NEOMFA) in creative writing. His plays and solo performances have been staged in San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Ottawa, New York and London. He is a three-time Ohio Arts Council fellow and has served as a resident artist at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and as Playwright-in-Residence at Cleveland Public Theatre. His plays, How Small, How Far Away and The Attaining Gigantick Dimensions, will be produced by Zuppa Theatre (Halifax, Nova Scotia) in 2012. He is currently collaborating with playwright Mike Oatman on a play about Cleveland's Hough riots.
David Hansen is a 2010 Creative Workforce Fellow, a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, generously funded by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Plays include solo performances I Hate This: A Play Without The Baby and And Then You Die (How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years) as well as the Great Lakes Theater's outreach touring productions On the Dark Side of Twilight and an adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, premiering February 2012. Other works include The Lady, The Vampyres, and collaborated on the plays The Gulf and This Vicious Cabaret. David is Associate Supervisor of the Great Lakes Theater School Residency Program, and GLT Grants Writer. He has been a contributor to Muse, Angle and Cleveland magazines. David lives in Cleveland Heights.
Margaret Lynch collaborated with composer Daniel Bernard Roumain on words for the songbook Gilgamesh on the Crooked River—as part of Tri-C’s Project Gilgamesh (2010-12). With Daniel Bernard Roumain as composer, she also wrote the libretto for The Order of An Empty Place, a musical reflection for Passover. She has been a member of the Playwrights Unit of Cleveland Play House since 1996. Her plays have been presented by or at Cleveland Public Theatre, Dobama Theatre, Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Play House, Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre, Stagedoor Manor, and 78th Street Studios. She received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in 2005. From 1984-2002, she served as dramaturg for Great Lakes Theater. She co-founded the Cleveland Theater Collective and serves as Executive Director of the Irish American Archives Society.
In the first half of 2012, The Consequence of Impression, Deborah's play about Berthe Morisot and the Manet brothers, has a staged reading at Chicago's Remy Bumppo Theatre Company; short plays The Wedding Night, Adventuress Adventurous, and monologue The Cowboy are presented in Dobama Theatre's GYMWorks (Cleveland); The Berlioz Project: a multidisciplinary multimedia multi-venue Rock Opera collaboration with Verb Ballets is workshopped at Cleveland Public Theatre; Adventuress Adventurous is read in Santa Fe Playhouse's Benchwarmers festival; The Cowboy is performed at Riverside Theatre's Walking-the-Wire festival (Iowa City); full-length play Pen Name is read at Dramatists' Guild's Friday Night Footlights (New York); Cowboy Poet, a C&W Musical rides into Los Alamos Little Theatre; the article Collaboration appears in Seasons, the periodic journal of ICWP; and poem "When I Sing Whitman" debuts in Spring 2012 in JennyMag, an online poetry journal. Deborah holds an MMus from Australia's University of Melbourne; is a member of Dramatists Guild, American Composers Forum, BMI, and Dobama Theatre's Playwrights GYM; and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Women Playwrights.
Michael Oatman is a Cleveland-born playwright, and the newest talent to emerge from the legendary Karamu Theater, in Cleveland, Ohio. With a style that has been described as a hybrid mixture of Langston Hughes and David Mamet, Oatman's briskly paced narrative is peppered with imaginative language that has become his hallmark. His distinctive voice firmly places him among the newest generation of emerging playwrights. Oatman earned an English Degree from Cleveland State University in 2004 and completed his MFA in Theater, from the Northeastern Ohio Master of Fine Arts Consortium (Cleveland State, Akron University, Youngstown University and Kent State) in 2008. In 2011 Oatman won the Cleveland Arts Prize. In a few years Oatman has amassed an impressive body of work and a list of productions and readings. His playwriting credits include The War Against Tupac Shakur at Karamu, The Rainy Season at The Church; Lost Prospect at the Ingenuity Festival in 2006; Not a Uterus In Sight, Oglephish and Indelible at the Factory Theater; staged readings of Indelible and In Man at Karamu Theater, and a staged reading of The Chittlin' Thief at the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York and African American Playwright Exchange in Washington D.C. He has also directed the staged reading, Hip Hop for Eva at Karamu Theater and Billy's House of Pancakes and The Way of the Dance, at Cleveland State University, as well as numerous youth productions.
Eric Schmiedl is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Kent State University and the University of Hawai'i. His plays for children and adult audiences have been produced by theatres including The Cleveland Play House, the Denver Center Theatre Company, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Public Theatre, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, New Stages Theatre, the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, the Oregon Children's Theatre, Karamu House, Great Lakes Theater Company, and BackStage Theatre in Chicago. His adaptation of Kent Haruf's best selling novel Plainsong won the 2008 Westword: Best of Denver award for Best Dramatization of a Novel. His rock inspired adaptation of Treasure Island created with recording artists Captain Bogg and Salty (Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Disney Junior) recently received acclaimed productions in Portland (Oregon Children's Theatre) and Chicago (Adventure Stage Chicago). Eric is the recipient of a 2012 Creative Workforce Fellowship. He also recently received an Aurand Harris Fellowship from The Children's Theatre Foundation of America in support of his new play, My Hemisphere and Your Hemisphere Live Across the Street, created with his wife and Nigerian storyteller, Adaora Nzelibe Schmiedl. Eric is also working on a commissioned adaptation of Frankenstein for the Denver Center Theatre Company and a new children's play for The Cleveland Play House. He has written for the Emmy Award nominated children's television program, Ask Gilby and has been awarded an Edgerton Award, a Sloan Foundation commission, and was a finalist for the 2010 COSE Arts Business and Innovation Award. Eric is a member of The Cleveland Play House's Playwrights' Unit, is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and is on the faculty of the Low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Eric and Adaora live in Cleveland Heights with their two sons Zeke and Arthur and a beagle named Mable.