Staying sober: Y-Haven, CPT share stories of recovery and triumph in ‘12,000 Steps’

Leonard Goff has been sober for 31 years, and he still believes in taking one day at a time. “I could have a beer right now and it would mess me up,” he warns, stressing that he no longer touches alcohol. It took him a long time to be around anyone else who is drinking. “I tell myself, ‘just stay sober right now—try to stay in the moment.’”

Leonard Goff For the past six years, Goff now channels his energies into the annual theater productions staged through the Y-Haven Theatre Project, a partnership with Cleveland Public Theatre and YMCA of Greater Cleveland’s Y-Haven transitional housing facility for people in recovery from substance abuse. The two organizations have collaborated on productions for the past 23 years.

This year, he is assistant director of “12,000 Steps,” the story of the long road to recovery, through recovery, and the persistence and perseverance required to move forward each day even in one’s darkest hours.

Cleveland Public Theatre’s Y-Haven Theatre Project 2019: Father’s WatchThe play is inspired by and performed by residents of Y-Haven. “The play is about someone falling off the wagon, and seeing how it affects the people around them,” says Goff. “Hopefully, people will see the play and stay sober for another day.”

CPT executive artistic director Raymond Bobgan wrote the play based on the residents' shared personal stories—mostly centered around opioid addictions.

 “[Bobgan] is a wizard at transferring the stories into a compelling drama,” says Y-Haven executive director Ed Gemerchak, who collaborated on the project along with CPT assistant director Bridgett Martinez. “It’s humorous at parts, but serious because it tells about the struggles the residents have gone through in the past and their transformations.”

While the people who shared their stories are kept anonymous to protect their privacy, Goff says the stories are all real experiences. “Almost every line in the play, they said to us,” he says. “But it’s not a downer—there are funny moments and sad moments.”

Goff says in past years, audiences have packed CPT to see the shows, even sitting in the aisles. But this year, because of the pandemic, he predicts the crowd will be a bit thinner.

Free performances are scheduled for this Thursday, Nov. 18 and Friday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. There is a suggested $5 donation to support the Y-Haven Theatre Project. On Saturday, Nov. 20 there will be a benefit performance that includes an appetizer reception and the performance. Tickets are $100 per person. Then on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 4 p.m. there is a free community performance (donations accepted) at Lakewood Congregational Church, 1375 W. Clifton Blvd.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.