A drama about smallpox in America. A one-woman show that combines dance, film and song. A play about the apocalypse that takes place in a bathroom stall. For the 10th year in a row, Cleveland Public Theatre's Big Box, starting Jan. 5, will showcase original works as a way to help their creators grow as artists. "The whole idea is to support the people who create the work," says Cleveland Public Theatre executive artistic director Raymond Bobgan. "It's rare to have an environment to stretch creatively." Big Box runs for seven weekends and will feature 11 vastly different performances from area artists. We've got the inside scoop on three of them.
Lisa Langford, 45
Medium: Playwright and actor
Inspirations: Langford cites playwright August Wilson. "Wilson reminds us that the winners write history, and we often forget that winning isn't always money or land or power. Sometimes it's in your soul."
What she'll bring to Big Box: She wrote the play The Negro Perkins, which is about three African-Americans confined to a pest house during a smallpox epidemic. "It's just basic storytelling. There are rhythms to the language I want my actors to master."
Amy Compton, 37
Inspirations: She draws her passion from life, including dreams and fantasies. "I usually follow something to see where it leads. In the end the piece reveals itself."
What she'll bring: The Dreamer is a one-woman show that features Compton's dancing ability, but will also show off some of her filmmaking and songwriting.
Lew Wallace, 25
Medium: Acting and writing
Inspirations: Wallace's latest piece came from a rather odd place. "I literally was inspired by a piece of bathroom graffiti," he says. "If you're going to do theater, you have to pay attention to the world."
What he'll bring: His one-man show Jesus is Dead ... and Jerry Garcia is God takes place largely inside a bathroom stall.