When playwright, director, actor and drama teacher, Lauren Persons, read Inner Visions, Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope, she knew it had to be an oral history play: “The stories were just too good. Their lives seemed to jump off the page, begging to be seen and heard.” And the rest is, indeed, history. The script was written and Jan and Lauren agreed to ask the people in the book to play themselves. In a couple weeks, the skeleton of a script was written.
On one of the hottest days of the year in Vicky Trotter’s Dry Cleaners on 114th and St. Clair, a group of story tellers, turned actors, had a first reading in a room off the dry cleaners. The pssst of the pressers punctuated our words and some of the players took buses and skipped their lunch hours to rearrange their schedules to be a part of this rehearsal. Unlike most artistic ventures, this play had the author, playwright and actors in the same room at the same time. What could have been a touchy situation resulted in a dynamic collaboration. Suggestions were made, words were altered and a vision was shared.
The momentum as well as the cast grew. Within a month, the half dozen actors turned into a diverse cast of over twenty members, one lighting technician, a set designer, music director, pianist and dancers. With the blessing of Lee Lazar, the Executive Director of Rainey Institute, the cast moved rehearsals into Rainey's Theater.
Persons, the director of the play ,can’t wait to get to rehearsals. “What an incredible privilege to work with a group of people who are committed to making Cleveland a better place. I always loved Margaret Mead’s quote, ‘A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ Now I know what it really means.”