Now retired from theater, I’m enjoying my passions in life: travel, photography, creative writing and theater and family biography and research. For 34 years I was the Artistic Director of the Caldwell Playhouse, later named the Caldwell Theatre Company, in Boca Raton, Florida. I co-founded the not-for-profit organization in December 1975 with Frank Ira Bennett of Ocala, Florida. The theater evolved at the instigation of James R. Caldwell, a twinkling Scot who created the first rubber dustpan in 1933.
In 1969 Jim Caldwell and his wife Madeleine saw a production of a John Patrick play I directed at Frank’s and my summer stock theater in Highlands, North Carolina. One crisp, mountain morning, while I was teetering on a ladder to change a light bulb, Jim walked into the empty playhouse, came onstage and told me to keep working. “I always trust a busy man,” he said. As a summer resident of Highlands, he said he wanted a theater like this one in his new permanent residence, Boca Raton, Florida. “Let’s make it happen,” he said. He left his card on a rung of the ladder and said, “Call me when the season is over.”
I did. He started a search. Time elapsed, but voila! A resident theater company burst into life on a small college campus on a little-known road on the outskirts of Boca.
I retired in 2009 after moving Jim Caldwell’s namesake theater from the college venue to a downtown Boca Mall to another shopping mall to a new building called the Count de Hoernle Theatre. Under new management and in desperate economic times, the theater closed its doors in 2012, but the Caldwell legend remains.
Five Best Director and numerous Best Production and Best Ensemble Carbonell Awards sit happily on shelves and in cabinets in my house. I’ve created several articles and booklets about the Caldwell, and continue to work on a Power Point about our adventurous years, but I don’t miss the sturm und drang of daily theater life. At last I’m free to see the world, write about it, and take photographs.
Raised in Rock Island, Illinois, and Edinboro, Pennsylvania, I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon) and moved to Florida after graduation. I’ve lived in Florida ever since. Got my feet wet by directing plays at the Ocala Civic Theatre, took time off to earn a Master’s Degree from the University of Florida, taught for a year at Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, then poured myself into the creation and development of the Caldwell. Now I have the opportunity to keep in constant touch with a legion of lifelong friends.
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