This month the theater company will open its second theater, Sometimes in the Silence, on Euclid Avenue.
Founders Sean Derry and Sean McConaha will continue staging lesser-known plays that are edgy and in your face —the kinds people talk about long after the curtain falls.
The Cleveland theater will provide an engaging experience for the audience, says Derry. The 9,000-square-foot complex will seat between 60 and 150 people in what Derry calls an “off-Broadway-style house.” The stage and seating will change with each play, bringing audience members close enough to see the emotion in the performances.
“You can see every twitch of the eye and smirk and how breathing changes,” Derry says. “You can’t lie to your audience in our theater. It has to be real.”
The curtain will go up with Adam Rapp’s “Blackbird,” a love story about two down-and-outers living in a Brooklyn squat. The play first premiered in Ohio at the Akron theater, but Derry says he hopes the play will reach larger audiences in Cleveland.
“Sean and I started the theater in hopes of producing innovative, challenging works that weren’t being done,” he says.
Akron audiences took note when the duo first opened A Shot Rings Out (the theater company’s name and those of its venues are inspired by lyrics from U2 songs) on Market Street in 2005.
All of the Akron productions were new to Ohio and some were world premieres, says Derry. The Akron theater has experienced 500 percent growth since opening and has more than 500 season-pass holders. When Derry and McConaha found out that 60 percent of their audience was driving in from Cleveland, opening a second theater was a “no-brainer,” says Derry.
“We want to be considered the best theater in the world,” he says. “Starting a second space on the North Coast was easy to say yes to.”
“Blackbird” runs six days a week through March 15: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri and Sat at 8 p.m. and a Sun matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, but there is a pay-what-you-can policy. For more information, call (330) 606-5317.