American Dreams By Leila Buck. Directed & Developed by Tamilla Woodard.

What if a game show controlled who receives the “ultimate prize:” U.S. citizenship?

Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) is proud to present the world premiere of American Dreams. The production is onstage from now through  March 3, 2018, in CPT’s James Levin Theatre.

About the Play
You are invited into the live studio audience of American Dreams, where you will decide which of three contestants -a Pakistani cartoonist, a Palestinian chef, or a Mexican medic -will receive the ultimate prize: citizenship in “the greatest nation on earth.” Weaving playful audience engagement with up-to-the-moment questions about immigration and more, this participatory performance explores how we navigate between fear, security, and freedom; who and what we choose to believe-and how those choices come to shape who we are.

According to CPT’s Executive Artistic Director, Raymond Bobgan: “Regardless of whether you’re someone who wants to build the wall, or someone who thinks we should throw the doors of America wide open to spur our economy, or anyone in between… it’s important that as we think and talk about these issues we remember we are talking about people. This is not a play about policy or Dreamers or “the wall.” It’s about people who simply want to lead a better life and the inherent desire to protect the life we have.”

According to Global Cleveland’s President Joe Cimperman: “I’m excited for this production and I am excited for March 4th – the day after American Dreams concludes here in Cleveland as its impact ripples across our city. I’m eager to witness how Cleveland may have fundamentally changed – this is why Global Cleveland encourages people to meet new neighbors that don’t look like them and interact with strangers with greater compassion. We look to have volunteers assist us at every Naturalization Ceremony to welcome the New Americans awaiting citizenship and we commit to educating employers on hiring international applicants for jobs with greater appreciation. When we celebrate diverse peoples and cultures, foster collaboration and support, and harness the power of arts to transform our community, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, and the people of Cleveland, are truly great.”

The contest takes place in four rounds and culminates in an audience-wide vote. “Round I / How America Works!” is a buzzer-style quiz taken directly from the U.S. citizenship test. “Round II / America’s Favorites!” invites three audience members to volunteer to help contestants answer questions from national surveys about American cultural preferences and norms. “Round III / Aliens with Extraordinary Skills!” is what is commonly known as “the talent round.” Contestants showcase skills and share their dreams and beliefs in ours. “Round IV / The Hot Seat!” heats up the competition as audience members ask tough questions of each contestant. Within “The Vote!,” the audience decides the lucky winner, thus determining the fate of the losing contestants.

The show transforms abstract political debates into person¬al, tangible questions: What shifts when we aren’t talking about distant borders but potential neighbors? What kinds and levels of bias do we bring to the conversation? Who would you take a chance on? How far would you go to advo¬cate for your choice? Do you trust the system? If not, why and how do you continue to participate in it?



Presented by Global Cleveland 

Moderated by Chris Hoey, Immigrant Community Organizer, Global Cleveland



Kayla Griffin, Chair of the NAACP Yps
Jazmin Long, Deputy Director, Global Cleveland
Tracey Winbush, Treasurer, Ohio Republican Party; President, Ohio Black Republicans Association



Thomas Kate, Employment Coordinator, The Refugee Response
Patrick Kearns, Executive Director, The Refugee Response
Tom Mrosko, Director, Catholic Charities



Murat Gurer, Salaam Cleveland and Muslim American Community
Rabbi Stephen Weiss, B’nai Jeshurun Congregation



Kathleen Brennan, Program Associate, The Cleveland Foundation
Joe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland
Mark Owens, Executive Committee President, Irish Network Cleveland


CAST and CREW of American Dreams
The cast includes Ali Andre Ali, Josh Brown, Leila Buck,* India Nicole Burton, Christopher Hisey, Lynna Metrisin, Jens Rasmussen,* Imran Sheikh,* Brenton Sullivan, and Andrew Aaron Valdez. *Actor appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

American Dreams was written by Leila Buck, and directed and developed by Tamilla Woodard. The creative production team includes Raymond Bobgan – Producer; India Nicole Burton – Assistant Director; Colleen McCaughey – Stage Manager; Wes Calkin – Lighting Designer; Sam Kusnetz & T. Paul Lowry – Sound Design; T. Paul Lowry – Video Designer; Kerry McCarthy – Costume Designer; Ryan T. Patterson – Scenic Designer.

American Dreams was developed in collaboration with Ali Andre Ali, Osh Ghanimah, Jens Rasmussen, Imran Sheikh, and Andrew Aaron Valdez.

American Dreams previews February 8, 9, 10, & 15 (no show February 12). Press Night is Friday, February 16 and the show runs through March 3. Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights at 7:00pm in CPT’s James Levin Theatre, located at 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102, in the heart of the Gordon Square Arts District.

Tickets are $12-30. Students/Seniors receive $3 off on Friday and Saturday nights. All Thursdays and Mondays are $12. Friday/Saturday previews are $20.

PURCHASE TICKETS at or call the CPT Box Office at (216) 631-2727 x 501 use code GLOBAL to receive a discount! 


The James Levin Theatre is ADA compliant, featuring a patron elevator and an all gender, wheelchair accessible restroom.

Every Friday is Free Beer Friday at CPT. Mingle with the artists after the show and discuss the performance in a lively, social atmosphere – your drinks are on CPT.


Leila Buck is a Lebanese American writer, actor, and intercultural educator who has lived and worked across the U.S. and in 22 countries. She has performed and developed her plays with/at the Public Theater, Culture Project, Brooklyn Museum, Arena Stage (Best Performances, DC Metro Theater Arts 2016), New York Theatre Workshop (Drama League nomination), and the Wilma Theater (Barrymore Award). A State Department Speaker Specialist and Cultural Envoy, Leila has worked with UN teams to craft and perform stories of refugees and led workshops and dialogues on theatrical tools for cross-cultural communication with youth, aid workers, UN delegates, and educators in Denmark, Geneva, Istanbul, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Lebanon. She received the Edgar Beckham Social Justice award for her work as artist-in-residence for Wesleyan University’s Doris Duke Foundation Building Bridges grant, teaching and creating interactive theatrical dialogues with students, faculty, and community about the (mis)representation of Muslims in the U.S. She has taught storytelling and theatre for literacy, conflict resolution, and intercultural engagement with New York Theatre Workshop and Lincoln Center and at cultural, educational, and community-based institutions across the U.S. and around the world. Her work is featured in/on TCG’s Finding Home Essay Salon; Lark’s Stages of Resistance blog; Innovation in Five Acts; Etching Our Own Image: Voices from the Arab American Art Movement, and Four Arab-American Plays. She is a member of the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, a Usual Suspect with New York Theatre Workshop, and teaches Participatory Performance and Civic Engagement and Representation of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. Theater at NYU.


Tamilla is co-founder of PopUP Theatrics, a partnership creating site-specific theatrical events internationally, and the Artistic Director of The Five Boroughs/One City Project, a multi-year initiative of The Working Theater. She is a past Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women’s Project Theater, a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, alumnus of The Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and artistic affiliate with New Georges. She graduated from The Yale School of Drama’s Acting program and is the recipient of The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women. Recent work includes: James Scruggs’ 3/Fifths at 3LD, PolkaDots: The Cool Kids Musical with The Atlantic Theatre Company, Harbur Gate by Kathleen Cahill at Salt Lake Acting, Melisa Tien’s Yellow Card Red Card at the New Ohio, Beto O’Byrne’s Loving and Loving at Stella Adler, Miami Motel Stories, a site-specific immersive currently running in Miami’s Historic Little Havana, and a workshop of At Buffalo, a new musical about the 1901 World Fair.


*American Dreams has received special production support from: Deborah & Ron Ratner, The Bennett Family, & Global Cleveland