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Cleveland Public Theatre’s ‘Air Waves’ is a breath of fresh air

Take a fascinating journey through time and space with "Air Waves".
Air Waves graphic art/poster by Sean Higgins

Air Waves


At what price would you sell the rights to the air over your house and property? This is one of the questions put forth in the fascinating production “Air Waves” now playing at Cleveland Public Theatre through February 15, 2014.

It is the future and industries that pollute have been granted the ability to buy “Air Rights” not only from lesser polluting industries but from the general public as well. The air over entire cities is up for grabs but there is a catch in the law. It must be a unanimous decision from all the citizens of the community, otherwise no deal. George has been approached by Kim (who represents one of the polluting industries) to sell the air rights over the house he lives in that once belonged to his sister who committed suicide by sitting in a running car in her garage.

Since George is the last holdout in the entire city, he has made three demands. First, he wants an apology from his old business partner. Second, he wants a bee hive with a colony of bees and a queen bee in his back yard. Third, he wants his sister Jeanette brought back from the dead.

Thus the tail is woven as members of the audience tramp from place to place within the Cleveland Public Theatre complex. The play “begins” with the audience members seated at round tables in the lobby. The table is covered with brown wrapping paper in which various questions are presented. You are asked to place a supplied sticker on the answer that most closely reflects your views.

A host then comes by to moderate a scripted discussion among the table mates concerning the value of air. This is followed by a short scene that sets up the rest of the play. From there you travel to the main stage area for the first of a series of vignettes that gives snatches of information concerning the story line. As the evening goes on you find yourself at the bottom of the grand staircase, in a hallway, in the front ticket foyer and…well you get the idea. Intermission brings everyone back to the tables for more discussion then back to the main stage area for the conclusion.

What makes this a fascinating experience is the openness with which the hosts treats the audience members. There are no wrong answers, just open forum discussion designed to have you think rather than solve.

This play is the third segment of the “Element Cycle” series (the others being “Water Ways” and “Earth Plays”) and is by far the most easily understood of the three. Here, there is a definite storyline with a beginning, middle and end. All the loose ends are brought together before you leave. The message is presented in short scenes, songs, jokes, discussions and dance.

The main purpose of the work “Air Waves” seems to be to recognize the value of the air we breathe and how it could be taken away from us. Putting it into perspective, a human being can live 30 days without food, 3 days without water but only 3 minutes without air. The ideas presented in the production are not that far off from truth. The idea of selling pollution points is going on now and honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. The question is asked, “What can we do right now to make a difference to the future?” It is definitely food for thought.

Prude Alert: There is mild language as well as some hard language. It is fleeting and of little consequence.

Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): “Air Waves” now playing through February 15, 2014 at Cleveland Public Theatre is a walking adventure through time and space as well as conceptions concerning pollution. CPT uses a velvet glove approach to gently educate rather than hammering an idea home. It is an enjoyable evening of participatory theater that will help you think.

Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Air Waves is presented with generous support from Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Tickets are $12 – $28.

Take advantage of $12 tickets on Monday and Thursday shows. Student and Senior discounts ($3 off) are available for Friday and Saturday performances.

Every Friday is FREE BEER FRIDAY at CPT. Audience members are invited to mingle with the artists after the show and enjoy a drink or two on CPT.

Group discounts are available for 10+. Call James Kosmatka, CPT Director of Patron Services at (216) 631-2727 x203 for more information.

Tickets are available for purchase online at or by phone at (216) 631-2727 x 501.

CPT develops new, adventurous work; and nurtures Northeastern Ohio artists – particularly those whose work is inventive, intelligent and socially conscious.

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