Woman Loves Books, Theater

Sun News
Thursday, August 7, 1997

Kymberli Hagelberg, staff writer

Independent Bookstores Are Worth Checking Out

Harriett Logan is happy leading a double life -- owner of a bookstore by day and director of theater by night.

When it came time for college, Logan's practical parents urged her to become a technical writer. To please them, she compromised with a double major in theater history and English. But from the moment that Logan cast her first look at the University of Illinois' "black box theater," her twin goals were set.

"Theater was a learned passion that came later. I really didn't love it until I went to school and got a chance to see how the black box worked, where everything from the lights to the seating was molded for a specific performance. In that, I could see opportunity. Before, all I knew were the big, glossy musicals. That's what I thought theater was, and I wasn't a fan," Logan explained.

Three years ago, after a series of temp jobs and lots of hiking in Seattle, Logan came home to Cleveland and began looking for a way to make a living.

A lifelong love of words drove her to open an used book store. In January 1995 she started working on the Shaker Square storefront that would become Loganberry Books. In March the store opened, with lots of help from Logan's mother.

Logan, a committed book hound, said she was "really just happy I found a job nearby that paid."

Loganberry Books is holding its own, even at a time when smaller stores are being gobbled up by the megachains. The store specializes in children's literature, fine and performing arts books, and women's history and literature. Among Logan's treasures are first edition works by feminist writers in the 1920s.

Logan's newest obsession satisfies her love of literature and the theater. She will direct Red Hen Theater Co.'s production of "Theodora: An Unathorized Biography," which opens tonight at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2592 W. 14th St., Tremont.

"Theodora" is based on the life and times of sixth century empress who decided she'd rather rule rather than stay home and bake cookies. Needless to say, that ambition brought the empress her share of bad press.

Though the play is set thousands of years ago, Logan sees the empress Theodora as a timeless feminist figure--a powerful, feared women who was skewered by scribes for being uppity and ambitious.

One of the only records of Theodora's reign was written by a rival. The secretary of an army commander had penned a "secret history" that painted the empress as everything from a cruel despot to a brazen jezebel.

Red Hen's production sets that account against the recollections of five historians and the empress herself in a funny, fast-paced debate.

Logan said, "The secret history was passed-down lies that became truths in other people's history. The play tries to sort things out using historians from throughout time and one woman, who is Theodora's lone defender."

Harriett Logan

Harriett Logan

Owner, Loganberry Books, 12633 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland, and free-lance director
Favorite movie:
"Harold and Maude"
Last book read:
"Wings of Courage" by George Sand
"To own a bookstore that has a performance space and folk music area."
Favorite sport to watch:
The best part of my job is:
"Playing with the books."