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Cleveland Public Theatre's Premiere Fellowships elevate local artists

Meet some of the talented local artists who were awarded 2020-21 Premiere Fellowships from Cleveland Public Theatre.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Public Theatre has long been known as one of the nation's leading experimental performance venues, along with shining a spotlight on artists from right here in northeast Ohio.

The Theatre's Premiere Fellowship is an honor given each year to four Ohio-based artists who show excellence in their craft. 

Raymond Bobgan is the Executive Artistic Director of Cleveland Public Theatre, and he knows the value in supporting artists.

"As an artist myself, I've been the beneficiary of a number of different fellowships and awards," he said. "What I learned was that when you put money into the hands of artists incredible good happens in the community."

And this year, four phenomenal theater artists receive not only financial support from CPT, but customized assistance to help them produce the projects that they're passionate about.

Director Toby Vera Bercovici is one of those artists.

"The piece that I'm going to be working on is a devised piece specifically for zoom," she explained. "It has to do with postpartum depression and what being trapped in a room without your work and your community does to to one's mind and it just seems really potent right now since a lot of us have experienced some level of being trapped in our rooms and isolated from our working community."

Siaara Freeman is a world-renowned poet who is excited to use this fellowship to explore more topics.

"I'm focusing on black girl magic," she said. "I think people think it's a contemporary idea but really it's an old school idea and I want to bring that to the forefront like the history lineage and legacy of black girl magic.

For theater professional Nina Domingue, this fellowship is an opportunity to reflect the times.

"I entered the theater as a storyteller," she said. "What I'm looking forward to with this fellowship is creating in the moment that we're in. This is not the theater that we know and that's okay."

The fourth Fellowship winner is Ananias J Dixon.

"When we give an artist a fellowship, when we recognize the work that they have done for our community, we are also telling them that they are valued," Bobgan explained. "And I'm so grateful that the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the voters of our region support artists the way they do have gotten behind this program that really is about centering artists and uplifting them."

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Editor's Note: The below video aired on March 11, 2021