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Cleveland Play House announces Elijah Rock lead role in ‘Breath and Imagination'

Cleveland native Elijah Rock to appear February 14 through March 9 in the Allen Theatre

Opening night is slated for February 14, 2014
Cleveland Play House

On January 20th, we paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his efforts during the American Civil Rights Movements. Many years before Dr. King took his stand, another African American strove to be heard.

Roland Hayes was the son of former slaves and raised in the south during the era of the Jim Crow laws. Roland was blessed with an amazing singing voice and with this gift he became known as the first world-renowned African-American classical vocalist. Over his lifetime, Mr. Hayes not only overcame several obstacles to achieve his dream of becoming a professional singer but also in opening an integrated music school in the South.

Using classical spirituals, beautiful arias and original songs, “Breath and Imagination” tells the life of Roland Hayes and his triumph.

Written by acclaimed playwright Daniel Beaty, directed by May Adrales, and starring Cleveland native Elijah Rock in the role of Roland Hayes, Breath and Imagination will run from Feb. 14 – March 9 in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.

About the Show

Born into poverty in 1887 and raised on the same Georgia plantation where his mother had previously worked as a slave, Roland Hayes discovered early in life that he had a special gift. Trading in his late father’s pocket watch for singing lessons, he studied with teacher and Oberlin graduate Arthur Calhoun, who helped Hayes develop his unique voice and taught him the importance of what it meant to be an “artist.” Despite only having a fifth-grade education, Hayes followed his passion for singing to Fisk University where he pursued his studies as a college student and became a soloist with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Hayes would eventually become the first African-American to perform at Boston’s Symphony Hall and would go on to sing for kings and queens all over Europe. Yet despite his great success and celebrity status, Hayes experienced first-hand the hatred and prejudice that still existed in the deep South.

CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley Exclaims: “It takes breath and imagination to sing a classic aria, to persevere against oppression, and to reach personal and artistic goals. Roland Hayes, the subject of “Breath and Imagination”, Daniel Beaty, the playwright of “Breath and Imagination”, and Elijah Rock, the performer in the role of Roland Hayes, are artists with remarkable and vivid stories to tell. CPH is thrilled to welcome back Daniel Beaty, and to welcome Elijah Rock home to Cleveland.”

Breath and Imagination Special Events

Tech Tuesday
Breath and Imagination February 11, 2014
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Hear from the director, then sit in on a technical rehearsal ("tech") to see how set, lights, sound, costumes and actors all come together as opening night nears! RSVP required. Behind-the-Scenes

Theatre of Transformation February 17, 2014
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Award-winning actor, singer, and “Breath and Imagination” playwright Daniel Beaty tells character-driven stories that speak powerful truths, and speak truth to power. Beaty shares the unique perspective and practices he’s used to create his spoken word and plays, and his new book Transforming Pain into Power, in this insightful and interactive evening exploring how transformation can start on stage, and continue in our communities and homes.

Breath and Imagination
February 23, 2014
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Breath and Imagination
February 25, 2014
9:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Breath and Imagination
March 02, 2014
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Ticket Information

“Breath and Imagination” will take place Feb. 14 – March 9, 2014 in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Tickets range in price from $45-$72 each. Students under the age of 25 with a valid ID will be offered a special $15 ticket price. Tickets are also just $25 for anyone under age 35, sponsored by Scene Magazine. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, Cleveland Play House has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. It has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,300 CPH productions. Cleveland Play House looks toward its centennial while performing in three state-of-the art venues at PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Arts Council helped fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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