Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Blank Canvas/Patrick Ciamacco

Welcome to BLANK CANVAS: The evolution of a new theatre
The story sounds right out of a 1930s Andy Hardy movie: with the cry, “Let’s put on a play,”Patrick Ciamacco and his merry band of henchman, decided, about 6 years ago to create a new theatre. At first they thought of the title Ghostlight Theatre, but since the name was already taken, and not wanting to tempt a lawsuit, the decision was made to call it Blank Canvas. Yes, a space void of substance, opening up the possibility to design and formulate what they wanted,with no restrictions.

After making a splash as the Laughter League, housed in Medina, Blank Canvas was offered a space in The 78th Street Studios. The owner wanted a permanent theatre tenant, the group wanted a space to do what they wanted without having restrictions placed on them such as union requirements. It was a match made in heaven. Well, almost. The owner cut a great deal, but the creative team had toinvent on the run as they needed to quickly mount a show.

Their opening production, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MUSICAL, an adult rock musical coming of age story about a 1970s handsome serial killer,played to half-filled houses through the first weekend, then, as the word spread, the 85 seat theatre was sold out for the rest of the run.

The writers of CHAINSAW came, loved it, and incorporated thechanges that director Ciamacco made into their Las Vegas edition of theshow.

Their second production, OF MICE AND MEN, based on John Steinbeck’s epic tale of two farmhand drifters, received rave reviews, and also did well at the box office.

Ciamacco indicates that “a lot of people responded favorably to the differences in the types of the first two shows, as well as the theatre space which is an intimate, right there space, with no audience member more than 15 feet from the stage.”

How is it financed? Ciamacco and some friends donated the start up costs. The income from the Laughter League helps. The Near West Theatre donated the BLANK CANVAS’s seats. Relationships with other theatres helped get a lighting board, and sound instruments were borrowed or rented at low costs. Some of the area’s best technicians volunteered their time free, and the actors were cooperative and helpful, building and painting scenery. Yes, it’s Andy Rooney comes to Cleveland.

What should audiences expect from Blank Canvas? Ciamacco admits the philosophy isevolving, changes have already been made in the description of who the audience is and what will be the final production, but right now, he wants low tickets prices for a quality show, a season with something for everyone, possibly someOhio premiers, and a place where non-traditional theatre-goers will feel welcome.

Their next production is Will Kern’s HELL CAB. It consists of 70 minutes of vignettes about modern city life and the people we meet for a brief moment but who touch us long afterwards. Six actors play 25 roles, while a cabbie, seated in a real yellow cab on stage, acts as the audience’s guide. The show runs May 4-20.

Ciamacco, who is young, creative, idealistic, and probably a little naïve, has great plans for the Blank Canvas. Based on the first two productions, this dynamo may be on the path to developing another fine area venue.
The theatre is located in the 78th StreetStudios, 1301 West 78th Street, Suite 211. For tickets, which are $15, or other information call 440-941-0458 or go to