Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan and longtime CPT artist Holly Holsinger, Cleveland State University’s theatre and dance department chair, will be representing the theater at the Global Women’s Performing Arts Festival in Busan, South Korea (GWPAF) this summer. The event is being facilitated by acclaimed international lighting designer and professor Jakyung Seo of Kent State University. The annual festival seeks to engage actors in a creative process to provoke conversations of equity and social justice.
Furthering Cleveland Public Theatre’s mission to raise consciousness and nurture compassion through groundbreaking performances and life-changing education programs, Raymond and Holly will be leading a workshop and discussion entitled “Finding and Sharing Voice in Action,” which utilizes physical and ensemble theatre techniques to share stories of healing and empowerment.
“Finding our voice begins in the body using our creative performance skills to embody trauma, defeats, and triumphs. Seeking stories from our past, our ancestors, and our own imagination, this workshop focuses on using acting exercises of physicality, vocal expression, and creative dramatics to develop performances of power and poetry. Centering women’s empowerment, participants will create individual and collective scenes and actions to be presented in a culminating sharing of work. Participants will learn new approaches to performance creation and acting while deepening their personal creative practice. Participants will also leave with the foundational elements to create their own performances.” ―Raymond Bobgan
This workshop is being undertaken in tandem with discussions of important developments in the international theatre field which are advancing new artistic practices to make powerful art through strong rehearsal processes that are nurturing, safe and free of harassment and trauma. These creatively super-charged practices align with social justice.
Festival Director Hyeja Ju envisioned this project based on her experience of Cleveland Public Theatre in 2019 and Raymond’s subsequent visit last year that included a workshop for actors.
“I was deeply moved by the work of CPT and wanted to share this inspiration with my own community! Last year, we invited Raymond to share the CPT story of utilizing theatre to engage communities and to share the work CPT has done of championing women playwrights and directors. This year we are taking this work further. I believe that the work of Raymond, Holly and Jakyung will make a lasting impact on the Busan theatre scene and support our work in transforming our practices to be more inclusive, nurturing, and safe.” –Hyeja Ju, GWPAF director
Adding to this significant cultural exchange, Holly will also be working with director/creator Hyeja Ju on a new iteration of her production of My Dear, Helen, a cross cultural story based on the autobiographical writings of Helen Keller.
“When I saw Frankenstein’s Wake on video and later as a live zoom production, I was deeply impressed by Holly’s unique stage presence. Her command over voice, body, and spirit is remarkable. I am thrilled she will be joining this multi-cultural cast and thrilled that Cleveland will be represented on our stage!” –Hyeja Ju, GWPAF director
“This is a learning journey. We come with great experience in experimentation and supporting the creativity of performers. We know we have much to share, but more importantly we know we will be changed by this journey and will bring that impact back to our community.” ―Holly Holsinger
The Global Women’s Performing Arts Festival led by Korean artists Hyeja Ju and Jisook Lee was formed as a place to celebrate women in theatre and dance, and to address systemic misogyny in the arts and throughout the world. Formed in 2020 the festival has roots in virtual performance, and upon its success, expanded to combine virtual and live performances in 2021. Last year’s participants were able to stream CPT’s 2022 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of playwright/director India Nicole Burton’s critically acclaimed Panther Women: An Army for the Liberation.
“Now that there is an issue over gender equality mixed with hatred, exclusion, and disparagement both inside and outside the country, we must fulfill the tolerance of art more than ever for a world that recognizes difference, not discrimination. Until the day when we can share, empathize, and understand each other’s different perspectives, GWPAF will gather voices and movements from all over the world to open a stage that changes the world.” ―Jakyung Seo
Over the course of ten days this team will engage in a theatre workshop that includes public sharing, a broadscale community workshop, and various lectures and panels.
Raymond Bobgan is in his 17th year as the Executive Artistic Director of Cleveland Public Theatre. During his tenure CPT has significantly grown in budget size and community impact. Raymond has produced 65 world premieres―a majority of which are by women and artists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
As an artist Raymond creates new performances that are bold, multilayered, and highly physical through an ever-evolving ensemble process. Raymond’s work has been seen in Romania, Brazil, Denmark, Serbia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and has been featured in American Theatre Magazine, Canadian Theatre Review, Theatre Journal, and in Lisa Wolford’s book Grotowski’s Objective Drama Research. Raymond is committed to ongoing research into new processes and styles. His most recent production Candlelight Hypothesis opened CPT’s 2022-23 season.
Most recently Raymond’s international work includes Frankenstein’s Wake cowritten and performed by Holly Holsinger at the Fitzmaurice Freedom and Focus Conference in London in 2018. He also presented and lead a workshop on equity, diversity and inclusion at the Arts Marketing Association annual conference in the United Kingdom in 2019, as well as virtual appearances at the Global Women’s Performing Arts Festival 2020 and 2021. In 2022 Raymond was hosted by GWPAF where he undertook a series of lectures, exchange dialogues, panel presentations, and theatre workshops.
For CPT, Raymond initiated the formation of Teatro Público de Cleveland, CPT’s resident Latinx theatre company, Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi العربي كليفلاند سرحم , a group dedicated to creating and performing theatre from Arabic-speaking communities, and Station Hope, a community arts festival exploring contemporary issues of social justice. Raymond founded the Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP), a job-training theatre program for teens, and co-created the Y-Haven Theatre Project with CPT Founder James Levin, which engages formerly homeless men in writing and performing theatre.
Raymond was the first recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize in the discipline of Theatre. He is a two-time winner of the Creative Workforce Fellowship and a recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Fellowship. He is an alumnus of the National Theatre Artist Residency Program (Pew Charitable Trust and TCG). Raymond received the Cisgender Ally Award at Cleveland’s Transgender Day of Remembrance and Equality Ohio’s Ally Award. In 2018, he was honored with the Cleveland Foundation’s Homer C. Wadsworth Award; and in 2017, his administrative leadership was recognized with The Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. In 2020 he was awarded the Father Frascati Neighborhood Champion Award by Northwest Neighborhoods.
Raymond was the president of the board of directors for the National New Play Network (2018-2020), and served on the board of Theatre Communications Group (2015-2023). He is the chair of the Gordon Square Arts District Cleveland Improvement Corporation board, treasurer of the board of North American Cultural Laboratory, and is part of Ideastream’s Community Advisory Board.
Holly Holsinger is an Associate Professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Cleveland State University. She has been a Cleveland theatre artist for several decades and has created over twenty original plays in collaborative partnerships. Holly recently remounted her solo performance Frankenstein’s Wake, co-created with Raymond Bobgan, at Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT), which previously received critical raves and audience acclaim in New York, Cleveland, Chicago and London, and was featured at the Grotowski at Irvine and Beyond Conference at UC Irvine. A virtual version of the show was created in 2020 and played as part of CPT’s online season and was featured as part of the Global Women’s Performing Arts Festival in South Korea. She co-wrote and directed Ancestra at CPT, a play about women’s rights in Ohio, which grew from community explorations and historical research. Ancestra was also produced last summer in New York and will have multiple productions in 2024. Another work, Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves, co-devised and performed at CPT and North American Cultural Laboratory, examines concepts of female identity and “wholeness.” Holsinger’s work as a performer has been described by critics as “magic,” “captivating,” and “a tour de force.” Her one-woman performance, Frankenstein’s Wake, was hailed as “an exhilarating bravura performance” by Time Out New York. Her performance and creative contributions in the groundbreaking work Blue Sky Transmission: A Tibetan Book of the Dead (at CPT and La Mama ETC in New York) also earned her rave reviews, most notably in American Theatre Magazine and The New York Times. Holsinger’s work has been featured in the Canadian Theatre Review, Theatre Journal and in Lisa Wolford’s book Grotowski’s Objective Drama Research. She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Romania, Belgium, Britain, and Brazil; and has shared her performance research with artists in Denmark, Colombia, Spain, Russia, and Ireland. Holly holds an MFA in Acting from the University of California, Irvine and is a certified instructor of Fitzmaurice Voicework.
Hyeja Ju works as a theater director, writer, producer, and festival director in Busan.
She is affiliated with ‘actor, audience and space’ (B.K.G theater), Hanaro Project, and the original downtown street artist community.
She worked as a guest director at Busan City Theater Company, Pohang City Theater Company, and Gyeongju City Theater Company. She also worked as a visiting professor at Korea University of Media Arts.
She made her debut in 2003 with the creative play The Bridge, and presents various works every year, such as Grade Record Book., Wuthering Heights, and The 10th Floor. She also has a repertoire of pantomimes including Joo Hye-ja in Anne Frank, My Dear, Helen, and Dumb Samryong. She has been invited to perform in India, Japan, Russia, Colombia, and the United States.
She serves as festival director for several festivals in Busan, and currently serves as festival director for the World Women’s Performing Arts Festival.
JAKYUNG C. SEO
As a professional lighting designer, Seo designed more than 100 productions. Seo’s work has been presented at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Congo Square Theatre in Chicago, Cleveland Play House in Cleveland, The Contemporary Theatre Company of Ohio (formerly CATCO) in Columbus, HERE arts center in NY, and Lodestone Theatre Ensemble in LA. Her international credits include Face at Edinburgh (UK), BINARI at Avignon Off Festival (France), Theatre Laboratory Elizabeth Czerczuk (France), Sibiu International Theatre Festival (Romania), Busan International Performing Arts Festival, and What We Want Is for Thrust Dance Company where she got awarded the best prize at the International Dance Festival in Saitama, Japan.
Currently, Seo is co-artistic director of Global Women Performing Arts Festival (GWPAF) (https://gwfeng.imweb.me/). The Global Women Performing Arts Festival focuses on female artists and their voices. Internationally, she has taught lighting design workshops in Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. Seo is a professor of lighting design, a coordinator of BFA and MFA design, technology and production at Kent State University.