Cleveland Public Theatre is known for its year-round dedication to pushing boundaries and taking risks with their production choices (you can read about some of those performances here and here). However, when it’s time for their annual Big Box series, they push it one step further.
Cleveland Public Theatre’s Big Box celebrates audacious, local artists by providing a space and support staff for new workshop performances.
For the writers, directors and actors selected to take part in Big Box, it means they have an opportunity to focus solely on experimenting with different disciplines and new stories. For audiences, it means the chance to experience ten world-premieres in only seven weeks.
First up is NOVA, a one-act opera that satirizes contemporary marketing techniques and how our society often treats people – especially women – as commodities.
Presented by Real Time Opera, producers of Harvey Pekar’s Leave Me Alone!, NOVA is running in the James Levin Theatre February 6, 7 and 8 (all performances start at 7 p.m.).
If the Stepford Men’s Association had gone to robotics school, NOVA would have been their thesis project. In short, she’s a sexbot.
(Needless to say, this production is for adults only — leave children at home because it contains nudity and sexual language of a graphic nature.)
This show intrigues me because I’m two issues into Alex & Ada, a new comic about an emotionally detached guy who receives a sexbot from his grandmother for his birthday.
However, in contrast to Alex & Ada’s use of the android trope for a love story, NOVA is taking a much more scathing and reflective approach.
Paul Schick, who wrote the libretto, said he intends NOVA to deliver an indictment of “the superficiality of commercialized sexuality — essentially white, video-obsessed and gamingobsessed – in which our culture is immersed.”
I’m similarly interested in how NOVA twists the traditional opera format. While the production will include a chorus, they’re evangelists backing up the sexbot salesman’s unending pitch. The jingles they use quote pre-existing material and advertising campaigns. The show will also feature canned sitcom laughter from a “studio audience.”
It’s an interesting concept and I love that CPT’s Big Box provides an environment where local artists can take this sort of risk and get feedback from an audience.
After NOVA, Cleveland Public Theatre’s Big Box series continues through March 22 with one to two shows per week. Tickets cost $12 on Thursdays and $18 on Fridays and Saturdays. You can read more about each week’s schedule at the links below: