NEW AFRICAN THEATER Debuts (Cleveland) — Jan Ridgeway , Mike Oatman , New African Theater — AAPEX

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NEW AFRICAN THEATER Debuts (Cleveland)


Jan Ridgeway, Executive Director of The Garden Valley Neighborhood House is proud to announce the formation of the New African Theater, which will be head-quartered at the Garden Valley Neighborhood House (GVNH).  This new innovative theater will focus on the area of new work and will serve as an incubator for playwrights, directors and actors.  In a city loaded with hidden creativity, New African seeks not only to uncover these gems, but shine them to a high polish.  New African will actively target those homegrown playwrights and directors, who have gone unknown and unheralded.  Founder and Artistic Director, Michael Oatman, envisions the theater as a place to launch creative work and develop talent at the same time. 

“This city seems ripe for another avenue for artists to showcase their work,” said Oatman, who also plans to reach the youngest artists amongst us.  “One of the first things we have scheduled is an acting workshop for teens to help meet the demand of young people who wish to learn about performance, but have no viable outlet to do so,” said Oatman.  The free workshop will be held May 4th, at 12pm.  

Ridgeway is equally excited by the development of new work and the addition of Michael Oatman to the GVNH family.  

“Michael Oatman brings to this initiative a unique talent and perspective that will help New African develop the talent that reside in this historically under-served community.  We are excited by the new work that will be explored through this partnership,” said Ridgeway.  GVNH has been a beacon of hope for over 75 years.  GVNH, under the operational leadership of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Presbytery of Western Reserve, opened its doors in 1918.  Its mission was to provide social services to the residents in the neighborhood.     
Historically GVNH has provided support by helping to acclimate diverse immigrant ethnic groups into the cultural quilt work of America.  Presently, the current community in Garden Valley, which is primarily African American, depends on subsidized housing and social programs for mere survival.  This has caused GVNH's services to more intensely focus on issues of education and sustainability.  In this spirit, The New African Theater will have a strong outreach arm that ventures into schools and community centers, using theater as a vehicle to uplift and educate.

“This is a bold step forward.  Something whose time has truly come.  I look forward to being able to service the young people of Kinsman and the surrounding area,” said acting instructor Ashley Aquilla, who is a local film and stage actor.  Aquilla will be facilitating the first acting workshop for teens.  All though the workshops will be aimed at the under-served communities surrounding the Kinsman area, all teens are free to join the workshop. 

Schedule of Events For the New African Theater
May 4th, 2013, 12pm – Teen Acting Workshop/Taught by Ashley Aquilla 
May 6th, 2013, TBA – The Art of the Story at Anton Grdina/Facilitated by Dominique Paramore
June 22nd, 2013, 12pm – PERFORMANCE: My Africa written by Michael Oatman

Garden Valley Neighborhood House
7100 Kinsman Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44104

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For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Jan Ridgeway at  (216) 641-5558 – Office/ (216) 618-7622 or email Michael Oatman at

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