In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to 1 million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16% of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.*

I have seen suicide claim many lives in my lifetime. When I was younger, a number of young men took their lives because they couldn’t handle being gay. As I grew older, neighbors had family members who chose this end, friends lost their internal struggle, and families that I knew for a very long time lost a loved one. One of those family members has created an experience to explore their loss, and the issues involved with dealing with it personally, within the family, and publicly. It is their truth to tell. But Caitlin Lewins, a Cleveland Public Theatre Joan Yellen Horvitz Director Fellow, has expanded her own truth to include others’ struggles in a piece titled “Left in Ink,” currently running in the Storefront Studio space. These fictional characters that inhabit this presentation are based on interviews from Colleen Byers, Tony Cintrony, Kelly Lozar, David Ploenzke, and Emily Seigel. The interviews were then transcribed by Caitlin Lewins, Dylan Winter Dwyer, and Darius Stubbs. Some material from “Left in Ink” was developed for Leap/Conceive last fall with Elizabeth Kelly, Alice Nelson, and Jill Tighe.

The ensemble approach to this moving and thought provoking piece includes Megan Brautigam, Jeanne Madison, Brett Radke, Amy Schwabauer, Jerry Tucker and the haunting recorded voice of Anne McEvoy, each one of them didactically taking the stories and sharing them beautifully with the audience. It begins at a frenetic pace, with storylines coming at you from a choreographed synapse of information. Eventually, slices of the scenes are slowed down to allow connection to characters and stories, or parts of the stories to which individuals can relate.  There are moments where it is okay to laugh. You have to at some point, and Schwabauer and Radke provide that release; Schwabauer as an overall presence and Radke making a sheet cake that is poetically funny and sad at the same time. But every actor serves reality with the utmost respect. And as the furniture accumulates behind the actors, at the end, each piece represented one of the questions that I felt personally connected to, such as:

How do you find out? How do you react? How do you tell people that they are being insensitive? How do you get through the day? How do you get through the holidays? How do you handle what is left on the Internet forever? How do you handle that talking about suicide is not a popular topic? How do we cope? How do we grieve? How do we handle songs on the radio?

The production elements were strong. Dan Kilbane called a great show. Sounds Designer and CPT Kulas Composer Fellow Patrick Fellow added electronic realness. Cassie Goldbach and Val Kozlenko provided a fascinating and efficient Lighting Design (loved the different lights and fixtures) and Set Design. Alison Garrigan brought her Costume Design excellence once again.

Additional text for the project was provided by Jane Lewins. Momma needed to be recognized.

We all need to talk. We all need to be educated. I was in a better position after watching this performance to know I needed to know more. That is a powerful piece of theatre.


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There is also a walk for awareness scheduled for Cleveland.


May 15 – May 31
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