Most Interesting People 2014: Laura Kepley

Laura Kepley


Why she's interesting: As the ninth artistic director, and second female, at the Cleveland Play House, Kepley will lead the theater into its centennial in 2015 and into a new identity. Plays such as Yentl, the tale of a young Jewish woman who poses as a boy so she can seek an education, or this spring's Informed Consent, which tells of a female scientist confronted with the ethics of genetic testing, will animate the theater with the works that Kepley likes to direct — stories that are smart, personal and socially relevant.

Strong Woman: Since joining the Play House in 2010, Kepley's work has included directing Good People and the world premiere of A Carol for Cleveland. But one of her favorites was last year's In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, which explores the early history of the vibrator. "The work that I've done [at Cleveland Play House] that has been most satisfying has been provocative and bold."

First Role: At age 9, Kepley earned her first role as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel. "I was really bummed that I didn't get to be Gretel, but then I realized, Hey wait, Hansel is the one who gets to do everything, so that was fine."

Down Time: "I love going to the Cleveland Museum of Art on a Sunday morning. It's very quiet and peaceful. That's one of my favorite things."

Career Commitment: Kepley has a quick answer when asked about her favorite playwright: her husband, George Brant. "I tell people that I am so committed to work that I married a playwright." The couple has collaborated on eight productions. "We're very lucky that we get to work together."

Standing Ovation: Kepley cites local playwright Eric Coble's My Barking Dog and The Velocity of Autumn as two of her favorite plays. "My Barking Dog was incredibly inventive and visceral, and The Velocity of Autumn was just fascinating characters."

Living on a Theme: To choose the plays that will be produced each season, Kepley and her team start with a theme. "This season there is a common theme of power running through: standing up to power, the responsibility of power, and especially the power that comes with technology. We now have the ability to do anything we want extremely quickly, but what are the consequences of that?"

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