Explore history of the Cleveland Play House during Dec. 1 lecture

Explore the history of the Cleveland Play House with Jeffrey Ullom, assistant professor of theater, when he presents, “A House in Search of a Home: A Contextual History of the Cleveland Play House.”

The free, public talk, sponsored by Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, begins at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 in Clark Hall 206. His presentation is part of the Faculty Work in Progress series, which features current research projects by faculty members.

Ullom will discuss his book-in-progress, which centers on the past, present and future of the Cleveland Play House. Founded in 1915, it is one of the country’s longest-running regional theaters. His book will be only the third written about the Play House.

The presentation will focus on the theater’s earliest years, exploring the motivations and decisions of the founding members in order to examine how the Cleveland community viewed the new institution.

In his book, Ullom tells the theater’s history in the context of the social and economic changes that have taken place over the past 96 years in Cleveland. Among other defining events, he will discuss the firebombing of the theater in the 1930s during labor unrest in the city and charges the theater faced that it ignored surrounding minority community members during the Hough riots of the 1960s. Today, the theater is an integral part of an arts scene in a city trying to reinvent itself.

According to Ullom, the theater has struggled over the years to find its place in the fabric of the city. It moved from East 73rd Street to East 79th and then to 8500 Euclid Ave. It may now have its final home within PlayhouseSquare’s Allen Theater Complex, 1407 Euclid Ave., in downtown Cleveland.

Ullom came to Case Western Reserve in 2008 from Vanderbilt University. The Cleveland Play House history is his second exploration of the history of regional theater. His first book is The Humana Festival: A History of New Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, which he wrote while working in the literary department of the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

For information, call Maggie Kaminski at 216.368.2242 or visit artsci.case.edu/bakernord/events/archive/Faculty_Work_in_Progress_2011-1-12.php.