This Thing Jeremy Wrote...


Happy New Year.

This is going to be a big one.

We have an incredible year coming for Theater Ninjas. It's huge. I'm more excited for it than any other Ninja year ever.

Right now, we're planning like crazy, juggling spreadsheets, calendars and a constant flow of email, and I'm trying to anticipate the questions that everyone will ask me about the shows this year. And of course, the big one is always, “What is [that amazing show] about???”

This is always shockingly hard to answer and can send me into a kind of fog of vague excitement and incoherence. Which I don’t mind personally (it can be kind of fun), but in the interest of serving the community at large, as we enter 2014, I wanted to write about the shows Theater Ninjas is producing and What They Are About. To me, at least.

Here we go.

[sic] is a very funny play. Aren't lots of plays funny though? NO. No, they're not. Or, okay, sure, maybe, but not like this one. This is a play written by Melissa James Gibson who has an incredible ear for the way people talk and for the language and rhythm of comedy. It's a play about three neighbors/friends who are all trying to do...things (write, compose, auctioneer)...and none of them are really working out. But it doesn't really matter what the play is about! What matters are the overheard conversations, the lame jokes in stairwells, the late nights of eating Chinese food that you can barely afford, the awkward hookup that you wish you could erase (or make into something more permanent), the dreams that are just out of reach and the people in your life who you confide in, who believe in you and who slowly drive you insane. You know: friends.

Also, it's already in rehearsal! The artists working on this show are phenomenal: Pandora Robertson is directing an incredibly talented group of actors and working with an equally incredible technical team. Seriously, these people are going to knock this thing out of the park.

Then we're doing Code. Code is a big project for us. It's an ambitious project, because it's a play about topics that are massive and complex and beautiful and fascinating and terrifying. You know, Math. Computers. Programmers. Infinity.This is an original performance we're building: one that combines an explorable environment, performance, games and artwork from many different mediums to tell stories in a totally new way. It's like visiting another dimension. And we want to make sure anyone who wants to visit can. Code is a show about Math for people who think they hate it and a show about computer code that even the most die-hard programmer will appreciate. This is about trying to understand the bones of the universe and about the human beings that are behind every piece of technology in the world. We want you to come out of this show into a world that seems so much bigger than it was and yet closer than ever.

This is going to be a deep plunge into a fantastic world, a theater experience unlike anything else you'll see all year. Get ready.

We immediately follow up Code with Stranded on Earth and please forgive me if I start by say it's by Eric Coble, a local playwright who's getting some incredibly well-deserved success on Broadway, and it's starring Derdriu Ring, a local actor who never fails to deliver riveting, top-notch performances both in Cleveland and abroad, AND that we're co-producing it with Mamaí Theatre Company who had a spectacular inaugural season last summer and who has some amazing things coming up. Also, the director is pretty good (it's me! I'm the director!).

BUT! But but but: what's it about? Metamorphosis. Change. Pain, growth and the ways those two damned things always wrap themselves together. It's about a woman who is lost to herself and her world, a woman who needs to tell her story to a room of people in order to find her way back. It's tragic, it's unreal, it's recognizable. It's about stripping away everything that you can live with and a few things that you didn't think you could live without because you have to. Because you need to save yourself.

There’s only one more show after that, but oh, what a note to end on. Those of you who saw the second weekend of Black Cat Lost will know that Ninja Ray Caspio has begun work on an immersive original show called Tingle-Tangle. This remarkable show looks at a world filled with fear, oppression and hate-speech but responds with love, compassion and the desire to understand...not to mention some out-and-out DESIRE. It's like entering a world from long ago yet undeniably modern, a place where songs, sketches and sex bleed together in a cocktail of love, rage, comedy, tragedy and hope. Theater Ninjas believes strongly that there are no easy answers and that laughter and tears make great dancing partners: maybe it's easiest to think of Tingle-Tangle as a seductive tango between pain and pleasure. Look for stand out performances by tantalizing Theater Ninjas, bold burlesque acts, the risqué recitative of Ray Caspio, and the symphonic stylings of sultry saxophonist Sean Ellis. You can get a taste of the final treat starting in January as we workshop parts of the show in one-off performances all over town.

You want to know more? It's a secret only the daring will **Tingle-Tangle**

...This isn't everything we're doing either: there's so much more! But these are the landmarks of our year to come. Seek them out and you won't be disappointed.

Maybe I don't need to worry so much about what each show is 'about' though. Maybe it's enough to just say what are Theater Ninjas about in 2014?

We're about making unpredictable, indescribable events.

We're about making work that is bold, daring, adventurous, intimate and inspiring.

We're about out-of-the-ordinary experiences.

And we're about to get started now.


-Jeremy Paul

Artistic Director

Theater Ninjas