Just like you, I do many things. Currently, I serve as the Artistic Director of the Cleveland Play House, the first professional regionaI theater in the United States. Previously, I had been working as a professional director since graduating from the Juilliard School’s (now-defunct, through no fault of my own) Directing Program. In 2014, I published my first novel, One Man Guy (Macmillan, FSG) and its stand-alone sequel, Hold My Hand, in 2019. My next book, The Keepers of the Stones and Stars, a queer protag YA contemporary epic fantasy, will be out in May 2024.
I served as the Artistic Director of the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, and as the Founding Artistic Director of the Upstart Creatures, a theare company that creates community through theatre, food, and social justice. I also founded the Leadership Initiative Project, which equips historically excluded artists with the tools to succeed in leadership positions.
I am an avid board-game player, food-lover and maker, and recipient of the 2012 Most Improved Player Award for the New York Ramblers, the world’s first openly-gay soccer league.
I believe that art nourishes the soul the way food does the body, that in the age of specialization we must fight extra-hard to prevent ourselves from being compartmentalized, and that joy is the answer.
photo credit: Aydin Arjomand
I am honored and humbled to begin my tenure
as the tenth Artistic Director of Cleveland Play House,
our country's oldest professional regional theater.
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Michael Barakiva is a Jewish Armenian from Haifa, Israel who grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, which were much scarier. He attended Vassar College, where he doubled in Drama and English. Upon graduation, he attended the Juilliard School as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Directing.
He has lived in over 35 apartments in New York City, directed off-Broadway and regionally, routinely cooked dinner for 100+, practiced Iyengar Yoga for almost a decade before finding Crossfit, and loves games and his husband Rafael.
His first novel, One Man Guy, was named to the Rainbow List, Equality Family Council Reading List, and spent over a year as Goodreads #1 LGBTQ YA Novel, and was named as one of Barnes and Nobles' Perfect Valentine's Day YA Novels 2017 list. The stand-alone sequel, Hold My Hand, was published in 2019, both with Macmillan (FSG). His third book, These Precious Stones, is due for publication in 2022.
He is the founding Artistic Director of The Upstart Creatures, a not-for-profit theatre company based in New York City that presents (meta)physical feasts, feeding bodies and souls and the founder and Creative Director of Novel Readings, a company that helps writers develop their work by having professional actors perform it for them.