Blank Canvas Comedy: Cleveland’s Favorite New DIY Theatre Space Hosts Another Weekend of Sketch and Improv
By Nikki Dalamotte
Tucked away in the twists and turns of the notorious complex at the heart of the Near West Side’s budding art scene, Patrick Ciamacco is working on getting back to his roots. Eight months ago, after years of touring Cleveland circuits as the ringleader of comedy troupe The Laughter League, Ciamacco founded Blank Canvas Theatre, a performance space equally as intriguing as the 78th Street Studios building it calls home.
Following a successful first season that included this year’s Texas Chainsaw Musical, their sold out splash onto the lustrous Cleveland theatre scene, Blank Canvas is holding a full month of comedy. Along with The Laughter League’s performance in early June, Blank Canvas hosted city main-stays Last Call Cleveland last week and will host Something Dada this weekend.
“Part of my plan is to get many groups and new productions into the area and create a new love for live entertainment. While doing that, I want to do what I can to support artists and groups that I think deserve it,” says Ciamacco. “What I love most about all three of these comedy groups is that we all have a passion to make people laugh and, most of all, to just have fun.”
Beyond the charm of Ciamacco’s DIY-fueled spirit (“I created the space from nothing and designed it to what I prefer.”), the theatre’s non-traditional ¾ thrust stage set-up itself may be the star. “It’s a very intimate space,” Ciamacco explains of audiences being next to eye level with performers, “the furthest seat is no more than 15 feet from the stage.”
Blank Canvas Theatre, in all of its high quality production work, still maintains the experimental magnetism of a lo-fi independent theatre company. And that makes for one of the most interesting comedy settings in Cleveland.
Despite Ciamacco’s history in Cleveland comedy, Blank Canvas plans to showcase a full spectrum of theatrical forms – they recently produced Of Mice and Men and will be performing the Tony-nominated Next Fall in October. “I enjoy dramas as much as comedies. The key to doing both well is just finding the truth in the situation,” he says. “All comedy is only funny because of some level of truth in it. It’s how we relate to situations and the story.”
Like any start-up, Blank Canvas Theatre is, as Ciamacco says, “a work in progress”. After their comedy month he hopes to keep renovating the space and is in the process of planning a “hilariously crazy, adult-only holiday show,” and their complete 2013 season. “Every space requires adaptation and change,” he says, “but we’re just happy to have a space that is ours that we can have fun in.”
Last Call Cleveland: June 22 & 23
Something Dada: June 29 & 30
Next Fall: October 5 – 21