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April 20, 2012

Historic Cleveland Play House Stages

The historic stages of the Cleveland Play House, from it’s inaugural year in 1915 through the closing of the East 86th Street complex in 2011, were created for and adapted to the changing needs of the theatre.

Early Play House productions were staged in buildings located on the estate of Francis E. Drury near E. 86th Street and Euclid Avenue.

Growing attendance at increasingly ambitious productions led to the purchase and renovation of a church building at East 73rd and Cedar in 1917. Ten years of continued growth brought a need for a much larger, professionally designed physical plant. In 1927 the Play House returned to the site at East 86th Street to build a new home, unique for it’s two theatres (Drury and Brooks) under one roof.

An increased emphasis on educational activities fueled the acquisition and renovation of another church building in 1949. Located at East 77th Street and Euclid Avenue, this location would also host the Play House Club from 1960-1983.


Open Stage at 77th St. & Euclid Avenue. This model of the "open stage" amphitheater, based on the design of Frederic McConnell, was new and revolutionary. Without curtain or proscenium it allowed the actors and the audience to interact in harmony.

Planning for consolidation of all Play House activities at the 86th Street location began in 1975 and culminated in the 1983 opening of the Cleveland Play House complex designed by architect Philip Johnson.

For more information contact Special Collections


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April 16, 2012

Scholarly Resources & Special Collections Exhibit

No sooner had the tables of the Hatch Reading Room been cleared of the March exhibit celebrating the richness of the Cleveland Playhouse Archives acquisition then the librarians and archivists of KSL's Scholarly Resources & Special Collections team began selecting for display of a number of items illustrating the variety of information sources and services found in the CWRU Archives, Special Collections and Preservation departments.

Staged on April 11th, the one-day exhibit was opened following a lecture entitled "Victorian Serials: Essential Parts of the 19th Century Imagination" given by Robert H. Jackson, noted collector of rare books, who writes and speaks widely in the U.S. and abroad on the history and future of the book and literary culture.

We invite you to take a look at a sample of the exhibit items:

For more information contact Special Collections

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April 09, 2012

Early Relationships between CWRU and the Cleveland Play House

CWRU established a joint degree program with the Cleveland Play House in 1931 when the Administrative Board of the Graduate School of Western Reserve University at a meeting on 5/11 approved a trial year for graduate work in Drama and the Theatre to begin in the Fall of 1931. As described in the 1931/32 Catalog, “The distinctive feature of this program of graduate study is the cooperation of a theatre and a university. The unusual opportunity to receive instruction from the director and members of the staff of the Cleveland Play House assures emphasis upon practical experience. To this is linked a study of the drama in its historical, critical, and cultural aspects as literature.” Barclay Leathem (WRU faculty member), Frederick McConnell (director of the Play House), and Arthur White (WRU faculty member) had presented the proposal for the graduate program. From 1927 until this time, Cleveland College of WRU had offered 1 undergraduate course, Play-Production, for 2 credit hours. Instruction had been given by Mr. Leathem and members of the Play House staff.

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Earliest extant brochure of joint program with Cleveland Play House

In addition to the curriculum, the two institutions shared personnel and spaces for productions. Cleveland Play House assistant director K. Elmo Lowe directed the WRU student production of The Cassilis Engagement as part of the Western Reserve University Centennial celebration in 1926. The WRU Adelbert College Sock and Buskin Club produced the Somerset Maugham play, The Sacred Flame, on campus in 1930 and at the Cleveland Play House during the 1934/35 season.

In an interesting twist, the Play House produced the Joseph Remenyi play, 30 Jefferson Arcade, in 1918 – nine years before Remenyi became a faculty member of WRU. Remenyi (1891-1956), novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright, was a faculty member in Comparative Literature 1927 until his death in 1956.

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