It's the classic coveted perk: the backstage pass. Only rock stars, industry insiders and the filthy rich are supposed to get them, while the rest of us wait in line and watch from the cheap seats. But Cleveland is the kind of big town that is so small you can find your way backstage, up close and in a privileged scene without too much trouble (or cash).
The easiest way to get on the inside is to become a member of a performing-arts group or theater. Invitations to members-only receptions, events and after-show parties will flood your in box. You'll also meet interesting and creative local people, have lots to talk about and build your own personal network.
Rather than wait in line for the blockbusters, check out the smaller, specialty events. One-offs, student productions, preview nights and matinees all offer the opportunity to show up a bit early, stick around after the show and do your own informal meet-and-greet. Participating as a student is another great way to get backstage. Many theaters and performing arts centers offer such opportunities if you're taking classes.
Sometimes, you just have to open your mind and think beyond the traditional event. Rather than a performance, attend a lecture or panel discussion. You'll usually have the chance to meet the speaker and maybe even ask a question during the public discussion period. This kind of one-on-one contact is found every day in Cleveland if you've got your eyes open.
You'll have to look beyond the headlines to find these events listed, but when you do, you'll be rewarded with insider goodies, a relaxed atmosphere and personalized attention. And you'll have discovered one more way that Cleveland beats the pants off almost every other big town.
Backstage with CPT Cleveland Public Theatre's latest production, "Dojoji," tells the story of a spurned woman whose unrequited love transforms her into a fire-breathing serpent. It's a creative, multicultural, multidisciplinary work combining the performance traditions of East Asia end the West. Enjoy a pre-show reception and post-show discussion meet the artists and discuss this groundbreaking play May 23 at 2 p.m. aleveland Public Theatre's Upstairs Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., (216) 631-2727, www.cptoline.org.
An Evening with Leslie Adams A two-event series for music lovers with composer Leslie Adams discussing his life and career as a full-time, free-lance composer and the philosophic context for his creativity. May 21 and 28 from 7 to 8 p.m. Lesbian Gay Community Center, 6600 Detroit Ave., (216) 651-LGBT, www.lgcsc.org.
Collaborating for Success Midwest Regional Conference A regional conference on creating affordable, high-quality and healthy office and program space for multitenant nonprofit centers. Issues will include financing, shared services, operations and management. Nonprofits, developers, foundations, consultants, city and government officials, and interested community members are invited to attend. May 6 and 7 at Fairhill Center in Cleveland. Register at www.nonprofitcenters.org or call (216) 961-8850.