National Reports

Ohio by Les Hunter

Headshot of Les Hunter
Les Hunter

Ohio by Les Hunter

It gives me great joy to introduce myself as the new Regional Representative for the Buckeye State. I’ve been a proud Dramatists Guild member for over a decade, and look forward to serving the needs of Ohio DG members. I am a native of Arizona, and retain a keen love of both cacti and Mexican food. I’ve also previously lived in Minnesota, New York City, Boston, and Chile. I moved to the Cleveland area in 2013 to teach playwriting and theater history at Baldwin Wallace University. I now reside in Lakewood with my wife Elana and our miniature Australian shepherd, Maya.

Previously I have served as Curator of New Plays at LaGuardia Performing Arts Complex in NYC, and my play To the Orchard was a finalist for the 2016 International Jewish Playwriting Contest. My plays are published by Playscripts, Indie Theatre, and Brooklyn Publishers. I have an MFA in Playwriting from Boston University and a PhD in English from Stony Brook University. My new play Down by Contact is about a former pro quarterback who, on the brink of poverty after years of secretly suffering from the degenerative brain disease CTE, is forced to sell off his mansion: the last vestige of his once-opulent lifestyle. The play, directed by Dale Heinen, will receive a co-production by Dobama Theatre and Playwrights Local in August, 2018 as an environmental theater performance in the Tudor Mansion at Gilmour Academy.

I’d like to thank outgoing Ohio Regional Representative David Todd, Artistic Director of Cleveland’s Playwrights Local (a theater company that, along with Cleveland Public Theatre, are Ohio’s members of the Playwrights Welcome program, which offers free, day-of unsold tickets to performances for DG members). David has provided years of service to the Guild as well as mentorship to me in this transition. David’s last Regional Event for the Guild was “Old Friends: An Afternoon with Cryer and Ford,” on March 11 with the Musical Theater Project at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Mixon Hall. The sold-out event, hosting musical theatre writing team Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford was described by MTP Founding Director Bill Rudman as a celebration of “the longest-running musical theater collaboration ever.” The evening featured interviews with Cryer and Ford interspersed with live musical numbers and historical video footage from their 63-year partnership. According to Rudman, the collaborators particularly relished the event because “no one had ever asked them to provide onstage reflections and help to perform a comprehensive survey of their body of work.”

As the new Representative for Ohio, I plan to work with our Dramatists Guild Ambassadors, Amy Drake of Columbus and Elizabeth (Libby) Tofig of Berea to bring more DG events including craft-talks, workshops, and performances. Our immediate event plan is for a craft-talk with an invited guest in September in the Dayton area (check your email for an update this summer). We would also like to take this transitional moment to begin to plan for the future by asking our Ohio DG members: How do you want the Guild to serve you in Ohio? Would you like to see more local programming, if so, what kind? You’ll find these questions and more in our Ohio Regional Member Survey, which you can find at: https://goo.gl/forms/hMQWI92LyVGyuC8o1. An additional email invitation will be sent out for the poll. Your participation will help us to be more responsive to your needs, and Guild participants can enter to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. In the meantime, we invite Ohio members to find us on our “Dramatists Guild – Ohio Region” Facebook Group to network, promote their work, talk shop and kibbitz.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with suggestions, questions, or guacamole recipes.