“Hope is not sunshine and smiles — hope is repeated, purposeful steps on this long road to change,” says Cleveland Public Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director, Raymond Bobgan. He continues, “Hope is in the day-to-day actions of individuals standing up in the face of hate and ignorance. With each step on this path, we recommit, we promise again, we hold each other up when the road is riddled with hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. The artists of Station Hope guide us to question, seek, move beyond fear and failure to act, and remember. Through their heart, music, and story, we remember our calling — our calling to hope and act, to plant seeds of change, and to live our lives with purpose and integrity.”
With the shooting at Congregation Chabad currently in the news and in our thoughts, Bobgan’s comments should resonate with all of us. Caitlin Lewins, the Theatre’s Director of Audience Engagement & Media Relations, agrees. She says, “Especially in this divisive time, gathering as a community to discuss important issues, celebrate our humanity and connectedness, and work toward freedom and equity is so important. The arts have the power to change our perspectives [and] open our hearts.”
Station Hope, free and open to the public, is organized by Cleveland Public Theatre. It takes place on Saturday, May 4, starting at 7 p.m. (Lewins suggests arriving early and following the signs to the event.) Designed to “celebrate Cleveland’s social justice heritage and explore contemporary struggles for freedom and equity,” Station Hope is a kind of “choose your own adventure” event, according to Lewins. Although maps of the event will be available, you may choose to just wander, secure in the knowledge that it is an annual affair.
Though its home base is St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ohio City, Station Hope’s artistic programs are widespread, which is not surprising given that over 250 artists will participate. The impressive list includes the Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers; Cleveland Classical Guitar Society; CPT’s Cleveland Core Ensemble; CPT’s Brick City Theatre – Lakeview Terrace: Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority; CPT’s Brick City Theatre – Riverside Park: Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority; Cleveland Treatment Center (Let It Ride – Youth Program); The CMHA Voices; Creative Concepts in Music; India Nicole Burton & Dike School of the Arts; Goree Drum & Dance; Inlet Dance Theatre; Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center & Talespinner Children’s Theatre; Kings & Queens of Art; Kulture Kids & Shri Kalaa Mandir – Center for Indian Performing Arts; Lake Erie Ink; The Lantern Theatre; Ohio City Theatre Project; Praxis Fiber Workshop; Restore Cleveland Hope, Inc.; and Twelve Literary Arts.
But Station Hope, which is appropriate for all ages, is not the only event that supports the Theatre’s mission. The Theatre seeks to “raise consciousness and nurture compassion. [They] believe art has the power to transform communities and [they] witness time and time again that when people share their truth, their original stories onstage, bridges are built and minds are opened.”
Their upcoming show, Central Concern, a co-production with Ohio City Theatre Project, is closing out their 2019/2020 season (May 18 – June 19): “ Using music, humor, and bizarre bouffon theatricality, Central Concern is delightfully depraved and entertaining. It takes a satirical look at the history of the American real estate profession and how it championed property values at the expense of civil rights.” Like Station Hope, this show should resonate with Clevelanders of all ages.
For more information about Station Hope, Central Concern and Cleveland Public Theatre, please check the theatre’s website – https://www.cptonline.org/.