David Levy and Jeff Groh had known each other for years before they realized their shared passion for storytelling. Once they began to discuss their love for the art form, they knew they had to create a home in which it could thrive. In the wake of their discovery, True Theatre was born, a place where people from all walks of life could have a chance at a microphone and receive coaching while developing their story. Since its inception in 2010, True Theatre has provided an opportunity for more than 175 unique voices, over the course of 7 seasons, to share their stories.
From the beginning, the mission of True Theatre has been to “build Community,” but Dave and Jeff were truly surprised at how vividly they could watch a Community grow every time someone shared a story. Dave and Jeff like to say “Everyone has a story to tell and the only difference between strangers and friends is the sharing of that story.” At every True Theatre performance, the audience makes 5 new friends.
The Story Team
Members of the Story Team help curate and coach storytellers as part of the preparations for each True Theatre event.
Dave can trace his love for storytelling all the way back to riding in the rear seat of his family car while his parents played Harry Chapin on the 8-track. He is fond of the traditional forms of storytelling (fables, cautionary tales, and other fiction), but is particularly interested in factual, auto-biographical tales like those you hear on The Moth podcast or by such greats as the late Spalding Gray ("Monster in a Box," etc.) and the on-time Mike Birbiglia ("Sleepwalk With Me"). As is true with everything he loves, he wants to share it with others who he hopes will love it, too. That was his motivation behind partnering with Jeff Groh to create True Theatre. David has lived in Cincinnati since 1992 and, when he's not programming computers or enjoying time with his teenage son, he is preparing and delivering speeches as part of one of his Toastmasters clubs or involved in the local theatre scene, telling stories via a different medium as both an actor and sound designer.
Leah graduated May 2016 from Taylor University where she studied Theatre and Professional Writing. Leah has always been enchanted with storytelling in all forms. During her four years of college theatre, she gained the experiences of stage managing, designing hair and make-up, choreographing, working on props, directing, and acting. Of her performances, she most enjoyed playing Izzy in Rabbit Hole, which won her an acting award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Post-Taylor, Leah has had her hand in several community theatre productions, alongside her husband, Carter, who studied theatre with her in college. Leah’s strongest theatrical passion dwells in the art of Playback Theatre, where improvisational actors tell the audience’s stories on the spot. She performed this style of theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. This art form brought her to appreciate True Theatre, where real stories are told honestly, vulnerably, and graciously. She knew immediately that she wanted to be a part of this team. Currently, Leah is working as the Theatre Director at Cincinnati Christian Schools and plans to continue auditioning at community theaters in the Cincinnati area. Leah has learned more from theatre than she could have ever anticipated and believes in its transformative power.
Jeff is the co-founder of True Theatre and is passionate about the power of storytelling. His professional life has criss-crossed between education and theatre. Jeff has worked as an actor, director, teacher, and is currently the Head of School at The New School Montessori. He has seen the powerful role storytelling plays in the lives of children and adults as an educational leader in the community and a storytelling coach through True Theatre. He has experienced how stories can build bridges, create communities, and serve as a reminder of our common humanity.
Nick has spent his lifetime exploring the intersection of story and work life – as an academic/writer, an organizational leader, and as an applied theater practitioner – seeking to understand how stories impart meaningfulness to our work lives. Nick previously performed with Playback Columbus, in the late 1990’s. He has been invited to perform at the Detroit Worker-Writer Festival, and he has performed with Bread and Puppet Theater, in Vermont. For more than twenty years, Nick has found great joy acting in organizational theater performances on stages throughout the US and Canada, as well as England, Poland, and Slovenia. But, Nick is most proud of his work organizing the First International Organizational Theater Conference, when he served in an executive director role at Canada’s Banff Centre. The Conference helped advance the, then, emerging field of applied theater – where theater is being applied in the workplace. Today, Nick serves as Executive Director (a sort of Chief Storytelling Officer role) of Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts, the first K-12 public performing arts school in the country. In this role, Nick most enjoys the opportunity to engage in narrative career coaching with students, and occasionally dropping in on an improv class! This past year, Nick has returned to his first joy - playback theater - helping launch the Ohio Playback Theatre Company.