Eric Coble, Playwright


Eric CobleEric Coble normally sits on his couch at home, writing on paper in longhand. Is he jotting down shopping lists? Not exactly. He writes plays. Lots of them. Some people write plays for their whole lives without getting one produced. In fewer than 15 years, Eric Coble has had around 40 plays produced.

Coble’s play Bright Ideas, described as a “Macbeth-in-preschool comedy,” received the National Theater Conference Playwriting Award and was produced Off-Broadway in 2002. It has gone on to many more productions around the country.

Other theater companies that have produced his work include the Manhattan Class Company, Kennedy Center, Circle in the Square, and Playwrights Horizons (New York); Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater Festival, Cleveland Play House, Dobama Theatre and Cleveland Public Theatre; the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Laguna Playhouse (California), Actors Theatre of Louisville, Actors Theater (Charlotte, North Carolina), Alliance Theater (Atlanta), Stages Repertory (Houston), Contemporary American Theater Festival (West Virginia), American Stage, (Florida), Penobscot Theatre (Maine), Ensemble Theatre (Texas), Hope Summer Repertory (Michigan), Pegasus Theatre (Texas), Creede Repertory Theatre (Creede, Colorado), Curious Theater Company (Denver), Actor’s Playhouse of Miami, Red Orchid (Illinois), Beat Kitchen (Illinois), Flight Theatre (California); at several universities; and in theaters on three other continents.

Coble, who lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife and children, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and grew up on Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado. He came to Cleveland in the early 1990s for a two-year acting internship at the Cleveland Play House, and then became an actor/teacher at Great Lakes Theater Festival. For several years, he has been a member of the Playwrights’ Unit, a component of the Cleveland Play House’s New Play Development Program, along with a small number of the area’s other top playwrights.

Coble is also a staff writer for Footlight Parade, a radio program broadcast weekly on classical stations around the country, and an occasional contributor to NPR. He was a featured writer in the 1999 Southern Writers’ Project, and has been a finalist in the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and the Y.E.S. Festival. His awards include an AT&T Onstage Award, a National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, two TCG Extended Collaboration Grants, the Aristophanes Award for Best Off-Broadway Comedy, First Place in the Southwest Festival of New Plays, Heideman Finalist for Actors Theatre Louisville, Best of the CATCO Shorts Festival, and an Ohio Arts Council Grant.

Among his better-known works, Isolated Incidents, Sound Biting and Virtual Devotion are examples of his slightly futuristic social satires, while Under the Flesh: The Final Descent of Edgar Allan Poe and truth: The Testimonial of Sojourner Truth, showcase his biographical playwrighting. His children’s play Pinocchio 3.5 is an up-to-date update of the children’s classic. While a good number of Coble’s works are children’s plays, often adapted from books and other sources (Cinderella Confidential, Pecos Bill and the Ghost Stampede), the rest are original—based on ideas that spring from a vivid, and sometimes prescient, imagination. Many of the dark concepts that inform his plays about the future have already come true—all the more reason to pay attention to Eric Coble’s work.

Cleveland Arts Prize
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