Breakout Session (or Frogorse)

By Nikkole Salter.
Directed by Beth Wood.

February 22, 2020 - March 14, 2020

7:00pm, Thu/Fri/Sat/Mon, James Levin Theatre. Previews February 22 & 27 (no show February 24). Opening night is February 28.

95 min plus a 15 min intermission.

Can a society legislate a change of heart? In Breakout Session (or Frogorse), inspired by Cleveland’s Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, a corporate training company is vying for the contract for anti-bias training with Cleveland’s Police Department. When the white facilitator tosses the approved curriculum out the window, the session spirals. Can a mantis shrimp and a crocodile teach us about building trust and the strength of vulnerability? Commissioned by CPT with funding from the National New Play Network (NNPN). World Premiere.

Featuring: Enrique Miguel, Jess Moore, Beau Reinker, Tina D. Stump*, Nicole Sumlin*, Jimmie Woody+

*Actor appears courtesy of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
+2019/2020 Premiere Fellow

The James Levin Theatre is ADA compliant featuring a patron elevator and an all gender, wheelchair accessible restroom.

Previews: $15
Standard Price (Monday, Thursday): $15
Standard Price (Friday, Saturday): $35

Content Warning: Breakout Session (or Frogorse) includes depictions and/or discussions of racism, bias, and violence. This production features characters who are Cleveland Division of Police officers and are in uniform. For details or additional content, please contact the Box Office at 216.631.2727 x501 or by emailing

The Creative Production Team Includes:

Raymond Bobgan – Producer
Sheffia Randall Dooley+ – Assistant Director
Colleen McCaughey – Production Stage Manager
Kitty (Wanqi) Wen – Rehearsal & Assistant Stage Manager
Inda Blatch-Geib – Costume Designer
Benjamin Gantose – Lighting, Scenic, & Co-Video Designer
Obediya Jones-Darrell** – Composer
Beth Wood – Props & Co-Video Designer

+2019/2020 Premiere Fellow
**2019/2020 Kulas Composer Fellow

Remarkable Rating:

Breakout Session (or Frogorse) is about implicit bias… but, at the root, it’s about trust. It’s about how trustworthy your own perception is. It’s about how difficult it is to trust in a relationship where your perspective isn’t being validated, and yet how necessary trust is to any relationship.”

-Nikkole Salter, Playwright of Breakout Session (or Frogorse)

About the Playwright: Nikkole Salter

Nikkole Salter has written 8 full-length plays, has been commissioned by 6 institutions to create full-length works, has been produced on 3 continents in 5 countries, and has been published in 12 international publications. Her work has appeared in over 20 Off-Broadway, regional, and international theatres. The National Black Theatre production of her play Carnaval was nominated for 7 AUDELCO awards and won for Best Ensemble Performance. Nikkole is a 2014 MAP Fund Grant recipient, a Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist, USA Fellowship nominee, and a two-time Playwrights of New York Fellowship nominee. In addition to Breakout Session, she is currently working on commissions from Woolly Mammoth, a musical with Neworks Productions, and is in development to write the television adaptation of Claude Brown’s New York Times Bestselling novel, Manchild in the Promised Land.

About the Director: Beth Wood

Beth Wood is the Associate Artistic Director & Director of Production at CPT. As a director of adventurous scripted work, she has been honored as a director of superior achievement by the Cleveland Critics Circle in 2016, 2015, and 2013, and has directed seven world premieres and eight regional premieres, during her twelve-year tenure at CPT. In 2016, she was awarded a TCG Leadership U[niversity] Continuing Ed grant to research long-term new play development models across the country. Recently, she has been working with Nikkole Salter to develop Nikkole’s new play Breakout Session (or Frogorse), a CPT commission supported by the National New Play Network, and will direct the world premiere in February 2020. Her CPT directing credits include Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lines in the Dust by Nikkole Salter, the NNPN Rolling World Premiere of in a word by Lauren Yee, There Is a Happiness That Morning Is by Mickle Maher, Barbecue and Antebellum by Robert O’Hara, FEVER/DREAM by Sheila Callaghan, Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang, and BOOM by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb.

About The Play

In 2017, CPT and nationally-renowned and award-winning playwright Nikkole Salter were awarded a National New Play Network (NNPN) Commission supporting the development of Breakout Session (or Frogorse), a new play inspired by Cleveland’s Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Breakout Session (or Frogorse) is born from an extensive research and interview process. Before setting pen to paper, Nikkole came to Cleveland to meet with community members, individuals working tirelessly in social justice, and the Policing Commission. She spent an hour and a half in conversation with the Mayor and Chief of Police.

Surprisingly, what Nikkole created is not a docu-drama, but rather an insightful (and, at times, funny) play with deeply human characters. Oh, yeah… and there’s also a bat, canary, crocodile, catfish, and a mantis shrimp.

To believe another’s perspective, there must be trust. Breakout Session (or Frogorse) asks how we can build two-way bridges of trust between us amidst systemic racism.

“Nikkole’s voice is bold and subtle, layering in unexpected discoveries as her work unfolds. She guides audiences down the path of self- and social critique, until even long-held beliefs and biases begin unraveling. We were thrilled when Nikkole accepted this commission because we believed her unique voice could support our community’s work against oppression and toward equity.”

-Nikkole Salter, Playwright of Breakout Session (or Frogorse)

The meaning behind “Frogorse”

Breakout Session (or Frogorse) is about trusting the validity of perceptions and experiences that may be different from our own.

In this popular optical illusion, do you see a frog or a horse? Both images appear, but to see the other, you must change your perspective.

Meet the mantis shrimp! The crustacean with remarkable eyes…

One of the characters you’ll meet in Breakout Session (or Frogorse) is a mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp have the most complex visual system ever discovered and can perceive colors that human eyes are not able to see.

Humans may not be able to see the 9-13 additional colors a mantis shrimp detects, but that doesn’t mean those colors don’t exist. When someone else’s experience differs from ours, how can we come to trust that their perspective is valid?

Click here to learn more about the mantis shrimp.

“Transcending the negative impact of both conscious and subconscious bias, and getting to the truth, can only come from an amalgamation of perspectives.”

-Nikkole Salter, Playwright of Breakout Session (or Frogorse)

From a pitch to a world premiere production

“Raymond pitched the question ‘Can a change of heart be legislated?’ as a prompt and said he wanted a play that helped the Cleveland community address the divisions brought to public consciousness by the city’s Consent Decree.” -Nikkole Salter, Playwright of Breakout Session (or Frogorse)

Following the NNPN commission in 2017 and an intensive phase of research and writing, Breakout Session (or Frogorse) received a reading at Entry Point 2019 last winter, followed by a staged reading in San Francisco as part of Playwrights Foundation’s Rough Reading Series. Both readings were directed by Beth Wood.

Breakout Session (or Frogorse) is not the first time Beth has directed Nikkole’s work—the pair’s artistic collaboration goes back to CPT’s 2015/2016 season when Beth directed the regional premiere of Nikkole’s play Lines in the Dust.

(You may also have seen Nikkole’s work onstage in CPT’s 2007/2008 season. CPT was the first theatre in the nation to produce In the Continuum, co-written with Danai Gurira, and in 2015, Nikkole and CPT Education Manager & Cleveland CORE Ensemble member Darius J. Stubbs created a short piece in Ferguson, MO, for The Every 28 Hours Plays entitled Unknown Thousands, which CPT presented at Station Hope 2015.)

About National New Play Network (NNPN)

National New Play Network (NNPN) is an alliance of professional theatres that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays. Founded in 1998, NNPN continues to revolutionize the new play landscape through the strength of its Member Theatres, collaborate efforts, and its nationally recognized programs and services for artists and organizations. Click here for more information.

About NNPN Collaboration Fund

In 2010, in an effort to encourage innovative, pioneering, project-based partnerships among theatres in support of playwrights and new plays, NNPN established its Collaboration Fund. The Collaboration Fund supports innovative partnerships that explore the many different ways theatre companies can work, both together and with playwrights, on the development of a new work. Cleveland Public Theatre and Nikkole Salter were awarded a Theatre-to-Playwright Collaboration which encourages creative partnerships between Member Theatres that pilot new, unexpected projects, stepping outside their normal budgetary confines to work together to develop new plays. Click here to learn more.

About NNPN Commission

Every year, NNPN awards at least two commissions to playwrights who work with Core Member Theatres to develop new work. More than 30 commissions have been awarded to artists all over the country through three programs: the NNPN Annual Commission, the Smith Prize for Political Theatre, and Full Stage USA. Click here to learn more.

This project is supported in part by an award from the national endowment for the arts

Special thank you to our new play development supporter