Playwrights Local Presents “Live Bodies for Sale” at Waterloo Arts


Powerful new documentary play on the human trafficking crisis in Ohio written by Christopher Johnston. Directed by Terrence Spivey, the production runs November 22 through December 15 at Waterloo Arts in Cleveland.
Cleveland, OH; September 30, 2019

Playwrights Local announces the world premiere of “Live Bodies for Sale,” a documentary play by Cleveland-based writer Christopher Johnston. Featuring direction by Terrence Spivey, this powerful new work runs November 22 through December 15 at the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts in Cleveland.

“Live Bodies for Sale” is a new play about the human trafficking crisis occurring in Ohio in the immediate present. In immersive fashion, this documentary work explores the lives of several women from Cleveland who are recent survivors of this ongoing injustice. “Live Bodies for Sale” addresses how these women were forced to work as prostitutes, detailing their escapes as well as their attempts to maintain healthy lives. Based on interviews with real people, the play presents the insights of professionals who help free such victims, including Renee Jones, an urban Mother Theresa figure in Cleveland. Testimonies from Cuyahoga County task force members­­--law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and judges--­­also detail what’s being done to free victims and hunt down their traffickers.

“Live Bodies for Sale” is presented thanks to the generous support of the Dramatists Guild Foundation, which awarded the production one of its prestigious DGF Writers Alliance Grants for 2019. The production is also made available by gifts from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the Cyrus Eaton Foundation, and the George Gund Foundation.

“We’re grateful to receive funding from such respected organizations for this play,” said David Todd, Artistic Director of Playwrights Local. “It reflects the depth of work that Christopher Johnston did in creating it, which includes a great deal of hands-on research in the field. We’ll be partnering on talkbacks after many performances with the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, among other groups. This is all thanks to Chris, who’s earned their trust over the last four years.”

Christopher Johnston is a Cleveland-based playwright as well as an accomplished nonfiction writer and journalist. His recent book “Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors and Bring Assailants to Justice” (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) received acclaim from Kirkus Review, New York Journal of Books, and the Christian Science Monitor. “Chris has a great deal of experience both in theater and in journalism,” said David Todd. “He has an investigator’s need to find the truth and a playwright’s vision for how to tell it. We feel that he’s the right person to take on such a pressing subject.”  

The cast of “Live Bodies for Sale” includes Leilani Barrett, Rocky Encalada, Arien Hodges, Rochelle Jones, Hayley Johnson, Joseph Milan, Juliette Regnier, and Emily Taylor. Design for the production is by Inda Blatch­-Geib (costumes), Marcus Dana (lights), Beau Reinker (sound), and Lisa L. Wiley (props). The staff includes Kristen Boehnlein (stage manager), Brittany “Charlie” Jones (assistant stage manager), and Tom Hayes (carpenter).

“Live Bodies for Sale” runs November 22 through December 15, 2019, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All shows will be at the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts (397 E. 156th Street, Cleveland, OH 44110). Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and groups, and $12 for students. Group packages can be arranged by contacting Playwrights Local at or (216) 302-8856. For complete information, visit

About the Company

Playwrights Local is a theater company in Cleveland. As a playwrights’ center, our goal is to provide a home for dramatic writing in Northeast Ohio. We offer classes and workshops, produce original plays, provide networking opportunities, and engage the community through outreach projects. Learn more about programs such as our Young Playwrights Collective and our annual Open Call for Submissions at Make your tax-deductible contributions to our 501(c)(3) group at


Tom Hayes, Managing Director
Playwrights Local
(216) 302-8856
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Playwrights Local 4181

Playwrights Local is a theater company based in North Collinwood. Our specialization is the development and production of new plays by writers from Greater Cleveland.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 4:08 PM, 11.11.2019