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Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley steps down

Laura Kepley
Dave DeOreo
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley and playwright George Brant work on "Into the Breeches" in 2019.

After nearly a dozen years in leadership positions at the storied theater company, Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley is leaving her post. The Cincinnati native joined the Play House staff in 2010 as associate artistic director and stepped into the lead role after the departure of her predecessor, Michael Bloom, three years later.

Since the announcement was made late last week, neither Kepley nor the Play House have explained why she’s stepping down.

Through a news release, the organization noted that, during her tenure, Kepley focused on increasing “the number of opportunities for actors, directors and production staff members who identify as female or are Black, Indigenous or People of Color.”

Kepley was only the second woman to lead the century-old institution. Over the course of 12 years, she produced more than 50 plays and directed 18 productions. Kepley guided the artistic fortunes of the Play House through tumultuous times, from the high of winning the prestigious Regional Tony Award in 2015 to the more recent financial challenges of COVID-19.

Her departure comes at a time when the Play House is also still trying to find a new managing director, following the 2020 death of Kevin Moore.

In the release, Kepley praised her colleagues on the Play House staff: “Serving as Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House has been the honor and privilege of my life.”

The announcement went on to say that Kepley will remain in her post until June while the Play House conducts a search for an interim artistic director.

David C. Barnett is a senior reporter/producer who focuses on arts and cultural stories.