In this 2006 interview, James Levin, a founder of Cleveland Public Theater, talks about his early life in Cleveland, especially his love of the Arts-- even while attending law school in Cleveland. In 1979, upon graduating from law school, he moved to New York to become an actor. His experiences in New York, including acting at Cafe La MaMa, inspired him to return to Cleveland in the early 1980s to create a theater for the Cleveland public. While working as a lawyer during the day, he and others formed "Theater 55" on the east side of Cleveland; later they put on free Shakespeare performances at the Cleveland Zoo; and finally in 1984 they found a permanent venue for the theater now known as Cleveland Public Theater in an old dance hall at 6415 Detroit--across the street from the Gordon Arcade. Levin primarily addresses the development of Cleveland Public Theater from the early 1980s to 2006, but he also talks about Ingenuity Festival and other arts projects.


Media is loading


Levin, James (interviewee)


Souther, Mark (interviewer)


Detroit Shoreway



Document Type

Oral History


54 minutes

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.