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2023-24 Season

The Breakfast at the Bookstore

By: Lisa Langford


January 26– February 18, 2024 Dramedy by Cleveland Playwright Lisa Langford Unfolds in Glenville


Mariah Burks as Dot

Prophet Seay as Sharpe

Dar’Jon Bentley as Haywood

Carolyn Demanelis as Fran

Kechante as (Understudy)

About The Breakfast at the Bookstore

CLEVELAND, Ohio– December 21, 2023: Karamu House, the nation’s oldest Black-producing theatre, continues its 2023/24 mainstage season with the world premiere of The Breakfast at the Bookstore. Written by Cleveland playwright Lisa Langford and directed by Nina Domingue, The Breakfast at the Bookstore is a love letter to the spirit of revolution in Cleveland’s historic Glenville neighborhood.

In Lisa Langford’s The Breakfast at the Bookstore, it’s 1973 in Cleveland, Ohio, where encounters with spacemen intermingle with the Black liberation movement and a young woman’s journey of love and independence. At the center of this captivating drama is Dot, a spirited and fearless individual whose passion for activism propels her to open a revolutionary bookstore. As a fervent supporter of the Black liberation movement, Dot’s dreams are imbued with the hope of inspiring change, one page at a time. Yet, standing in stark contrast to Dot’s aspirations is Sharpe, her common-law husband, and a former Black nationalist. Sharpe, scarred by the memories of the uprising, finds solace in a life detached from the fervor of activism. The play is inspired by a podcast Langford heard about UFO close encounters.

The Breakfast at the Bookstore will be performed at Karamu’s Cleveland Foundation Jelliffe Theatre from January 26 through February 18, 2024

Karamu’s President + CEO, Tony F. Sias says, “We are excited to produce the World Premiere of The Breakfast at the Bookstore by Lisa Langford. Lisa is a Karamu Alum and a Cleveland treasure. The Breakfast at The Bookstore is not just a play; it’s an experience that invites you to reflect on the complexities of activism, love, and the fight for justice.”

The play’s director and Karamu’s Associate Artistic Director, Nina Domingue, says, “One of the elements of Lisa Langford’s writing that I love, is the acceptance of the spiritual and unexplainable as a fact of life in the world of her characters. The beauty of her writing invites us to imagine possible futures and different perspectives of the present by allowing the spiritual/unexplainable to simply be present and not necessarily explained.”

The Breakfast at the Bookstore contains adult language, sexual suggestiveness, partial nudity, and descriptions of violence.

Performance sponsors of The Breakfast at the Bookstore include: The George Gund Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, The Reinberger Foundation, John P. Murphy Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Cleveland Foundation, and Facing History & Ourselves. Red Summer is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Read the Review


A graduate of Harvard University, Lisa Langford is a Cleveland-based actress and playwright. She earned her M.F.A. in playwriting from Cleveland State University after working on Dr. Angelou’s “Life Mosaics” line of social expressions. Lisa has acted Off-Broadway, regionally, and locally at Cleveland Play House, Dobama, and Mamai. Theatres. Her plays have been finalists for several playwright’s festivals and conferences and she also received a Joyce Award. The Breakfast at the Bookstore won Pittsburgh Public Theatre’s 2022 New Play Contest. Currently, Langford is the Artistic Associate of Black Lives Black Words.


Nina Domingue is a Black New Orleans native who is currently based in Cleveland. She is a griot, cultural memory worker, actor, director, and playwright, who currently serves as the Artistic Associate of Karamu House. Her most recent work includes directing STEW at Dobama, writing Red Summer, and co-directing it with Tony F. Sias. Upcoming, she will be directing The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin in the spring at Karamu House. She was a part of Cleveland Public Theater’s Premier Fellowship Cohort for the 2020-2021 season. Her solo show The Absolutely Amazing and True Adventures of Miss Joan Southgate has been included on The Kilroy’s List 2020. She was a Barbara Smith Playwright in Residence at Twelve Literary Arts and the Nord Family Foundation Playwriting Fellow and Catapult Artist at Cleveland Public Theatre during the 2019-2020 theatrical season. Her solo show Ya Mama! (dir: Nathan Henry) launched its tour at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and a run at Cleveland Public Theatre this past fall. Credits include: Paradise Blue (Justin Emeka, Karamu House), Revolt, She Said. Revolt, Again (Sarah E. Wansley, Dobama), Medea At 6 (Ensemble Theatre), It Hasn’t Always Been This Way by Ntozake Shange (Off Broadway, Diane McIntyre). Critics say that Nina is “…a young Anna Deavere Smith” and watching her is “like a master class in acting.” 

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