CLEVELAND: CPT and “Rusted Heart Broadcast”

An excerpt from the Spring 2013 issue by Carolyn Jack

Most people who’ve written about Cleveland Public Theater over the last 30 or so years have undoubtedly used pens or typewriters or computers. But it might more appropriate to switch to seismographs, because CPT has shifted more Cleveland-area cultural ground than
any geological force.

With the company’s upcoming production of “Rusted Heart Broadcast,” the machines would likely record more big waves. “Rusted Heart,” you see, is not what most people would call a play at all. No one playwright wrote it. It tells no linear story. It contains no witty repartee, no cocktails, no period sets – no sets at all, really.

And though it includes singing and dancing, you certainly wouldn’t call it a musical. Instead, the production that opens Thursday, May 30 and runs through June 15 at CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre, is the latest burst of devised theater – theater created organically by the people directing and performing it, together, from their own ideas – in the sizable list of such pieces that the company has presented since Raymond Bobgan began working there.

Bobgan has been devising avant-garde theater pieces since his college days at the University of California at Irvine, where he studied with Jerzy Grotowski. From his arrival in Cleveland in 1991, first as a leader of his own companies, Wishhounds and Theater Labyrinth, then as a CPT staff director, and now in the position of CPT executive artistic director, Bobgan has presented these weirdly free-form, deeply felt, experiential works on CPT stages, leaving audiences perhaps unable to describe what they’d seen, but certain they had witnessed something important, something profound – and been moved by it.