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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
The History of Gainesville's Hippodrome Theatre
Transcript of an oral-history interview
Mary Hausch, artistic co-director
April 7 1982
Interviewer: Gerard Hoskens
Graduate Oral History Seminar, Spring 1982
Mary Hausch is one of the Hippodrome co-founders who started the
theatre in 1972. She is now artistic co-director of the Gainesville's
The interview was conducted in Mary Hausch' office in the new Hippo-
drome building, located in the restored Old Federal Building at S.E. 2nd
Place in downtown Gainesville. The interview time was from 11:30 a.m. to
1:30 p.m. on April 7 1982.
Mary Hausch tells about the people involved with the Hippodrome from
the beginning on: the artistic cooperators, some of the board members, and
She describes the three buildings the Hippodrome has been located in,
since 1972: a Seven-Eleven type hardware store at Hawthorne Road, a ware-
house space at NW 53rd Avenue, and finally the restored Old Federal.Building.
She recalls both the working and artistic conditions of these buildings.
Her story is also about the 7rowin' audiences since the Hippodrome
started with eight people watching_ their first performance. It is about
the community involvement which enabled the Hippodrome to grow from a .ud.eot
of $2,000 in the beginning to the present bud.Grot of about 4-0,00,0.
The Hippodrome's artistic and organizational working methods get
attention, as do highlights such as planr.right Tennessee William's visit
to the Hippodrome.
Interviewer: Gerard Hoskins
Subject: Mary Hausch
Date: April 7, 1982
G: ...Hippodrome Theatre. With, the interview is with Mary Hausch, She is an artistic
co-director of the Hippodrome Theater. The interview is conducted by Gerard Hoskins.
We are in Mary's office at Hippodrome Theater in Gainesville.
Q : Mary, can you tell something about your background and your relation with
the Hippodrome ?
A : I was one of the co-founders of the Hippodrome and one of the original
artistic directors. Therewere five of us who started the theat), back in
1972. All of us had known each other previously from the theater) school
at the university, /.d'-the University of Florida is /nd we all went
away for about a year in '71, and had previously talked about developing oa
theater; and worked out in the real world for a year and decided to come
back and do that. -1 WfOS %
Q :"In the real world"; what do you mean by that ?
A Well, theater is sort of an artificial world, you know, You create your
/ /- own settings and your own time period and everything,like that. r.te real
worldI taught. Gro.-or, Hausch was working as whatever, gas stations and
whatever he could do that year. He did some theater work that year, but it
was pretty limited. We were in MiamiAthat year couple of people remained
in Gainesville but also worked in secretarial or whatever kind of positions
they could find. And, we had ...
Q : What did you do ?
C lw)t. Q6: Ohl i M
A : What I did ? IA taught for a year. drama, and math, and /-iilish. And, I have
a sort of a mixed background. Part of it is in math'and chemistry, and
,u-irt of it is in Jn.,lish and drama. So, it is a real strange combination.
But after we had been away for part of the year, we found ourselves coming
up'- to Gainesville and visiting friends that were here, and talking about the.
development of the theathf, andAmaking concrete plans to do so. Soin April,
after we had worked for about nine months-or something like that, we began
to make weekly trips up to Gainesville, looking for a space to convert into
a theat ), and eventually did that. We found a n-ace that was a Seven-Mleven
type of store, with eight-foot ceilings, very small.
Q : there was it ?
A : It was on Hawthorne Road, at theoutskirts of town. And the five of us beganv.-
) rent that building and worked at it every weekend to develop it into a
theater And then went back to our normal jobs--a-the week. .c ~ 60o -hC(O
Q : Were you together as friends ? Or what did unite you ? .
A : We were together as friends. We had done a lot of theal' together previous-
ly at school, and had developed the Lunch Box Theatre which was just an after-
noon performing ad- wa t-a- tb h outside the university; and had done a
number of productions together because of that; and because of being at the
orod uorokin on
university together,Awe'e0-nd shows together... So we all knew each other
L* ffih or-jy6i-ce
from that, and saw each other as friends and as artistic) deals of developing
Wtat theatW'. So in June, when my contract was up for teaching and everyone
else was in a pretty normal time to stop, just being used to school years
and stopping in June. We all came up here and be-ai to work e the theatrej
And the production early in June, it was a pantomime show that had all of us
performing in it. In the meantime we were building the benches and making
our lights out of tin cans, making our dimmer board out of house dimmers and
rubber bands, and that type of things. And painting the space and getting
it ready to be a theatre, ry-inr to promote it with any kind of posters n4d
etc. that we possibly could put together.
Q : Did you all finance it yourself ?
A : We financed it ourselves, mainly with...
(Telephone call interrupts the interview)
Q : Finances.
A : All right, finances. We financed it at the beginning with a collection of
about $2,000 that we had. That was the be'-inrinr of the Hippodrome. We cid)
UC-' collected a lot of lighting, instruments-types -of, different things from
being in Miami, and also from the university's trash, the theaQe) depart-
ment's trash. We ended up building our benches out of eye beams they had
k, 6 je hr c+troL W (n!3 Owcy aurr
built and had no more use for t.t.. f .......... go we ht
them up and used them as benches. And we also immediately bogn teaching
classes, children's classes which financed us. And none of us wee actually
being paid for the first year., o finances were a lot lower It was hard
Q : Was there Ray children art-education at all in that time in Gainesville ?
A : There was... I believe that SACA had some ...
Q : GACA ? (non-verbal question)
A : Gainesville Creative Art Association had some classes, not very many in
theatre, mainly in visual arts and that type of thin>. And there were...
I don't think there were any theatre classes at that time. AndAthat worked
fairly well, although our emphasis was more on performance and directing,
and things like that. So.. And we did our first pantomime show for eight
people. And the audience grew as large.as fifty people for that performance,
which was pretty good for the first performance. And then we did a ...
SQ.: What was the first performance on ?
A : It was a pantomime...
Q : Improvisation ?
A : Improvisation kind of piece. The next show was a very commercial show,
' Tg- he S Couple", and wasn't really our direction either. But we did that
commercially, just to help the growth. And then we were tending more toward
contemporary. We did an Ionesco play, and the rest of the year sort of
baunthled back and forth between some commercial shows and a lot of contempo-
rary type of theater, which was one of the main reasons we wanted to do
theat% in the first placebo be able to do exceptional contemporary
theatre that really made a statement' socially, politically, you know.
Q : Did it attract many people ? The Ionesco play ?
A : It seemed that the oneAthat we were doing comr.ercially attracted less people
than the ones we were doinL... because idealistically and so that helped
our direction. That helped us toward more what wehwanted to do. And we
grew from the eight people in the audience to the end of our second year,
we had 175 people squeezed into a very, very small Seven-Eleven type of
space. Our platformin. was real# limited because you couldn't go higher
than about two feet, or people would stand up and hit their heads on the
ceiling. So, the seating was strangesre- e-ttab a series of platforms,
anywhere where we could put them around the theatre. And~sta-ing itself
was very environmental. Avhat I mean is 44a0 we would put you into the
x play, you know, Ean you... For example, we did a show called 'PI (, .-)
which takes place in the future after the sort of destruction of civilization
as we now know it. And what used to be the papacy, and the pope in that
time. And what we did as far as creating 4-space,Awe had, as the audience
walked in, it would go throu'-h these tunnels which had a series of altars
and the tunnels were created with materials, you know, with fabric. And
old 0 O- C3pe
you go by all these altars, and when you came out inAthe more open cpoce,
but you were in the throne room of the Vatican. And you sat in part of the
throne room, you know, wherever your seats hIlppenod to be. So it was that
type... because of the size of that space you could involve your audience
X more in those kinds of in-your (., ".I.)" sets, you know, and make them part
of the performance itself. Sometimes we did audience...... I am sae on the
word I want... relating to the audience and having the audience involved in
reacting to performers on the stage. That wasn't always the case, but we
always wanted to involve our audience more than just beini: there, sitting.
When..., 60 Ok
Q : Was the whole theaej only one space, or were there separate rooms for
behind the stage ? Was there any kind of lobby or..?
A : No, there wasn't... We.created that differently for each show. The space
itself was an open space. I can only coip:.ro it tota dance floor kind of
space. And for each individual show, we would move the audiences-in
X Towsc?) different places. We would make -tes for someone. We would make ...
you could walk in sometimes, and it would be totally open. You would walk
in other times, and there were strange level platforms alover, and you
sat on different ones and actors performed on different dnes. So we had
you- kno ithec.
that because of theAsmallness of that space, we had more control over
changing that entire space every time. Downstairs was a combination of a--
workshop, to build the sets, a costume, make up,Al\wee else we had to
do e t/fr aEt perforrnin_; upstairs; even office space which we
didn't really need too muchAbecause there wasn't a whole lot of office work
at the time. It was mainly the physical creation of sets, the costumes,
and lights, you know, 4SMeSM sound. ':ver thing.*., everybody would be
involved. Everybody worked in areas where they just felt tv-yire e
'-fEat and in ?areas they didn't feel vaer sure of that. But everybody
learned to do all the aspects of theater which sometimes in your education,
you know, you never get exposed to, you know; building your own seats and
lights, and making things work. Be adaptable to whatever you need to do, to
create the atmosphere that you need.
Q : Yes, most of the time there is a more strict division of labor.
A : Right. It wasn't avery strict division of labor. Everyone worked on
LjouLt6 c Leork ihQ' On =ses o0nd
the set. Sometimes people wrked costumes a-the- t at the same
time, you know. But everybody nlu-cod in wherever they were needed most
and wherever they could most efficiently bu ufad.
Q : Who else where involved except for you, in the first year ?
A : Who else ?as involved ? Greg Hausch, Bruce Cornwell, Kerry McKenney, and
-O' Marilyn Wall who is now our costumer here.
(Hippodrome intercom nterrupts the interview. '
Q : What kind of people were in the audience the first years ?
A : Well, it was a-mixture. I think it started out with a lot of students who
were interested in bizarre, strange plays on the outskirts of town. I think
a lot of the middle-a"ed, middle class, and upper middle class people were
afraid to drive out to the outskirts of Hawthorne road. And so we had a few
of that segment of the population of Gainesville that I think was a minority.
And the, students were a majority at that time. /Some of our age group who
had, Pt out of school and were '.or :ir3 in Gainesville, 4u really hadn't got
into a professional career developrn.nt and that kind of thing So, I would
say the composition was at least eighty percent students at that time.
L )h c
^Q : Was the Hippodrome the only theatre 4*et provided that kind of plays, that
kind of productions ?
A : Yeah, at the time there was also the Community Theat"e who did mainly older
i CCU_ : //
works or, you know, the you-oeewet-take-it- with-you's, those kind of shows.
And also there was a university who... I guess it was also the same kind of
theafe It wasn't very contempora.r:r theat,,e. It was, you know, ten years
back contemporary theatre. A'here was Santa Fe who had a minor program. I
never even know if they did productions at the time, because they didn't
have the spacelthey have now. They have a new thea tr now, but at the time
they were in that old brick building that is now gone. That was across
University Avenue in the middle of the city there. So there was mainly just
the university pro-rarn and the community program and their emphasis was a
lot different than ours. So, I think that we were unique. And I think
that Gainesville was very -upr.ortive at the time. And the growth from that
eight-person( audience to a hundred seventy-five,Abursting ,at the seams,
created the problem of moving again. And abs funny D e had originally,
when we first looked at buildings, gone throughout 4,e Gainesville area, and
looked at a small church building downtown and looked at a warehouse.
Q : Which church ?
T,!:,:.rClcK (i5 nrpo
A : It was the Truth Taze~braeL right across from the post office, a small brick
building that we looked at. But because it had a lot of fire damage ea the
ceiling and because fears of...
Q : There were no moral objections ?
A : O no No Fears of being in the city at fir6t, I think, because feeling
c., i "
somewhat limited Ie-ars regulations: JusA how many people can sit in
you t *-',:. ft? hat- /. Wr,
there How many bathrooms do- m.U hm -. Things like that, you know. We
decided to try to get something on the outskirts, when we first found a
place. And thatise how we ended up in the Seven-Eleven. And whot we burst
at the seams we went back to another building we had looked at once before,
but the landlord wouldn't rent to us was on the other side which was a
warehouse that we were-in. When we first looked at it, the landlord told
if W tie orediup outr' o2l '..-'/.,/
us 'ue. t. .r akw.. L- l-i edt- .. ""'we milht find a place to rent.it.
But that.....good luck But after two years, I think most people thought
we had credibility after two years. When we first started I don't think
anybody thought it had a chance to survive Our ox-teachers...
Q : And youselves ?
A : No, we did. We never doubted at. t was nice. At the b -'inning everyone
just didn't thinkAe@ the possibility of failure at all, you know. We just
thought we are gena4 do it. And I just don't think that we thought'of
practicalities, thought of finances, thought of, you know, how far can it
yo hr ,
go, orAhow big can it be ? It was just something we were all driven to;
the desire to create artistically, and this gave us the opportunity we needed,
And it was a nicer concept than -oitn to New York and performing or directing
or breaking in into that hard world, because, you know, you are like a little
incubator On Gainesville, you feel safe,and it was a warm community. And
we all enjoyed Gainesville, so... Anyway we went back to our warehouse
again. And this time, he rented it to us. And we moved in there. And it
was sort of a shoc!:ing transition, because the space had twenty-one-+eet
ceilings, you know. We were used to the intir.T.;, of being enclosed in that
very small space/and the ability to convert the space entirely by anything
we did as far as creating sets, and lights, and sound... mainly sets, being
able to have a kind of intimacy. So our first production was a little thrown
off, because we had to put platforms in-/, /e were actually finding
seats that were discarded allove; froiy A lot of them came from Sarasota
and from Pensacola, old theaters that were closing,Aschools that were re-
placing, those kinds of seats. So we did a lot of traveling around, picking
up discarded theatre objects to put the new space together, because we had
a capacity o three hundred/at the time.
Q : Sorry, we didn't mention the time. It was in...
A : '74, I think. Let me see. Actually '75. 0 .Ol~ 9, _95"
Q : So that space looked more like a traditional theatre ?
A : Yeah... at first it looked very traditional. It was even... well, it wasn't
7p o' ...... i."'n I'-. "" o 0( 1 c ->
(-Int -Qa.- t-- ra. a e L rrv 1 ut it was... there was a ser nrotion.
The audience was in tiers, that,lyou know, started at one point halfway back
from in the space and went all the way up to the wall. And the set was on
the other half, you know. And there was a separation which was unusual for
the audience to experience because they were usually somehow, like I said,
distributed throughout the set or part of the production. And there was
an audience reaction that was saying..."we don't like this separation. We
want to be it more like it was before." And at that time, and I don't know
why we didn't think of that before, we created, we chlinred the space to be
three quarters, round, so that the audience was three sides of the space*
G: Not on the back side.
M: Right. And for the first year after that first performance we did all our shows in that
style, three-quarters, and that way, the audience is closer in there, and you still, you
know, the set goes out into the audience so it still involves them so much more than they
did before. But we also had the, the luxury toa-a~~ -oe height to start experimenting
with and we used, in the second show we did MMidsummer jigbhts Drean we did, had big
nets and swings and trapeezes and those kind of things that we could use that height, you
know, cause we, we were really having a chance to play with that for the first time because
before, like I said, if your platform was higher than two feet you would run your head
into the ceiling while you were acting, so....
M: Right, right. So we got to play with that and that helped us develop new set concepts that
we hadn't had time to do before. Straight on? And that....
G: What kind of productions did you play in that time?
M: Well, we started withfsort of a black comedy called and then we, like
I said, we did "Midsummer Night's Dream." That was a rather modern adaptation with
trapeezes and swinas and it was again, mostly contemporary theatre They, we did shows
like Streamers that was about the Vietnam War and life in the army and that more
political kind of show. The next year we ended up doing shows like LEguus and Otherwise
Engaged and Loose Ewds and....
G: Eguus-was a Broadway production.
M: Yeah, JSL~U We did a number of Broadway productions like, I said, Streamers and
Eqlu, Gemini, which 'is a real new play and that we just lucked into the rights
for because we asked before it became popular and just got them and were real fortunate
to have a signed contract because after that they wouldn't let anybody else in the
country have rights. And we were lucky that way with a couple of different shows. We
did __Fol and we did Loose Ends and all of those shows were
fated for national exposure and Broadway kind of things, but we happened to luck into
them at the right time. We always felt like the Hippodrome had some guardian angel that
was out there that was protecting us and also helping in those kind of situations to make
M: things work right.
G: You call it luck, but isn't it also a kind of policy you have with your thea&ie
M: Yes, yes. I think it's both. I think it's a little of both. I believe in luck, in
timing, you know, 'cause the timing was perfect for those things. We also worked with a
couple writers -- Tennessee Williams -- and developed one of his new plays and he came to
see it and to meet our audiences and to watch the last week of rehearsel and also....
G: Which was play was that?
M: That was 3Baby Doll. And then Eric Bentley did a similar type of thing and came for the
production of Lord Alfredis Loyer and that was the first time that play was ever done in
production and he came up and also went through a week of rehearsal period and got to be
exposed to our audiences and our actors and our space. Tennessee was a little shocked at
our warehouse, I think. I don't think he quite knew what it was, because we had gotten,
by the third or fourth year, we had gotten national a :st:m for doing a number of shows that
were unavailable in the nation, like I was saying, you know. Oh, I forgot Vanities,
also, and pgck Variations -- a David play -- and there aren't
very many people in this region of the country that do, that main emphasis is contemporary
theatre and so we had gotten the support from the National Endowment for the Arts and from
the Fine Arts Council, from the Ford Foundation, from the Endowment for the Humanities,
and some great support from the community and we had, in the, in the third year that we
were in the warehouse building it began to mushroom. We started, our audiences were fil-
ling up. We were really performing to more people than we ever had before. Our
subscriptions were growing rapidly and so it was just a new phase, for us, of growth.
G: Can you tell us something? You told all those organizations and endowments -- how did
you come in contact, how did you contact them? There must be a beginning.
M: Yeah. Well, in the verybeginnings, I think even our, I guess it was our second year --
I don't think we did any grant money our first year -- our second year we decided to, to
apply for a grant from the Florida Fine Arts Council and sent for applications and just
sort of, just did it, wrote it ourselves and sent it back and the first year, I remember,
we got our letter back that said, Sorry, you haven't been around long enough and we can't
fund youand then the next year we wrote again. Maybe it was the first year we wrote the
M: first grant because we were still in the old building when we got the second grant because
I remember we all went out to the mailbox which was outside in the sand, you know, one of
those regular mailboxes and opened it up, and there was a letter that said that we had
gotten support and everybody was, you know, singing and laughing and having a ___,, d
time because we were so shocked that we had only been in existence, I think we probably
did get it our second year, so we had been in existence about a year and a half and had
gotten some grant support. It was real small. I think it was like $3000.
G: From private, from national?
M: It's from the Florida Fine Arts Council which is part of the National Endowment for the
Arts, so it was in next year that.... The second year we did receive funding from the
Fine Arts Council. I think it was our third year, when we moved into our
that we wrote ___ to the National Endowment and received grants
from the National Endowment for support and also received a grant from the Florida
Endowment for the Humanities for a tour of Duck Variations which was a, I mentioned
before, was a play about two older gentlemen# who are talking in the park and it was
about aging and pollution and living in New York and we got a grant from the Humanities
to travel around to the retirement communities and perform Duck Variations.
G: Through, throughout Florida, the southeastern....
M: Throughout Florida.
G: Through Florida.
M: Yeah. So we did that.
G: How did people react, the older people?
M: It was really positive. It was, I thinkAthey, I don't know how much of the depth of the
play that they actually considered, but they, people laughed. It was, at the same time,
a comedy and it had, you know, still had social value, so, they,could, they could do
either thing. They could watch it and respond to it as a comedy, which a lot of people,
did and a lot of, there was discussions afterwards and people would talk about the
problems that they were having and each community would talk about a particular problem
that was happening in their own communities and so....
G: So you did some preparations in advance?
M: Uh huh. Oh, yeah. Uh huh. And studied the different groups that we were going to see.
So that was our first tour. The following year we toured Vanities to south Florida.
That wasn't on a grant, but we just performed down there and that was an interesting
transition because it was an extremely popular show in Gainesville and it related to the
development of three young women from the time they were age well, I would say,
fifteen -- high school age. Cheerleaders. To the time when they were thirty and they
had gotten into trying to define their lives and they were three very different people.
At the beginning they all had very, a lot of similarities. They were popular, they were
cheetreaders, they were involved in all the school activities, and, but the, through
the next stage you see them in college, and you see them starting to change directions and
then in the third act of the play you see them in different parts of the world TdAtoge her.
One of them is living by herself and is very secretive about what she's doing. Another
one is the director of an erotic art gallery. The third one is a mother with children
and is an alcoholic who's husband works in the professional community and who is very
lonely, so, and theyyget back together for a party and for a meeting after that time and
it was real interesting watching the three reactions in the different communities. Like
Gainesville's reaction was more sympathetic toward the more liberal people in the play and
when you went to south Florida, they were more responsive to the mother that was an
alcoholic and had children and who's husband was out fooling around, you know. So it was
real interesting to see that, really extreme changes in the audience attitude.
G: Do you have any idea where....
M: ,so it was really different getting that kind of response, you
know, from night to night and from community to community, so....
G: Do you have any idea why the difference came from?
M: Well, part of it was age, I think, because the audience in Gainesville was a very young
audience and probably a very liberal audience and as we travelled south, the audiences
were older audiences and I guess it's just the identification with wherever you happen to
be in- P+Y ~ r mvclen-+, and I think probably, most of them had had the ex-
perience, were older than the characters in the play, but had the experience of going
M: through motherhood, and marriage, divorce, maybe, whatever, and could identify more with
that personality and were more sympathetic with it. So that was interesting to watch.
That was our second tour. We waited....
G: I want to go back to funding on that.
M: Oh, funding, funding, that's what I said.
M: Okay. Funding....
GC. Because the first tour was...
M: Oh, right.
G: ...funded by the Florida Fine Arts Council.
M: Fine Arts Council. So we had support from a number of different, from the National
Endowment Program, the Fine Arts Council, for the Council for the Arts, and the
Council for the Humanities and our, our fund-raising and grant ideals at the time were
somewhat limited. We hadn't done lot of research because we were still so involved in
production work. And, but they began turning more in that direction as the growth of the
theater got larger. People began to research more into where else can we find monies to
underwrite the programs that we were doing because Gainesville is a smaller community than
most places where you have a, a performing arts theati/, so we, for the first four years
we mainly had those, that support from those groups and then we got a grant from the
Ford Foundation and this was in our transitionalAbetween the warehouse and the building
we are in now.
G: The old Federal Building.
M: Uh huh. The old:Post Office And, and the grant was real interesting one. It was one
where we were looking at.'instituijons who had moved from one space to another, performing
arts groups who had been in one theatre space and moved to a larger one, moved to,
restored spaces and had made that transition that we were about to go through and so we....
G: That was more social research or management research?
M: It was, it was a combination. It was very interesting because it combined management-
artistic ideals, social concepts because, psychology, too, because what happened was as
we went from place to place, you could sort of pin-point different patterns that were
happening, 'the different growth in the support of that organization because of the
credibility of the building, the management problems of having to deal with supporting a
building, now, instead of supporting a performing arts group, which is real different,
youiknow, having to support an entire building or the redevelopment of a building and
which competes with you collecting money for your development of your art. It was also
a time when it seemed like the board of directors for all the different institutions became
more involved, because here is all these large amounts of money coming in and the controls
were also developing more strongly from the boards of directors and in some cases, that
forced the artistic development of the theatre to go into some strange directions, some-
times positive, sometimes negative. A lot of, it seemed like the majority of cases it was
negative because what was happening is boards were insisting that so much money was being
spent for the creation of this space that the art orm had to be one that was commercial
enough to allow for them to pay for this now. And, which forced some artistic directors,
founders of theag1s who had been there for ten years to say, fhis isn't what I wanted to
do. This isn't why I started this in the first place, and I don't want to be here anymore.
So we, I saw a lot of that happening, people moving away from their thea f children, you
know, that they created and going somewhere else, because it was no longer what they
created, no longer the ideals that they had and they were being forced into some different
concept and they wanted to be, you,know. So there was that happening, too.
G: Did you have a good relationship with the board of directors of the Hippodrome, did they
support the theatf?
M: Yes. Our board was somewhat inactive, always artistically supportive of our ideals and
it originated because....
G: Yeah, when did it start?
M: It started very early in the second year, at the Hippodrome, somewhat early in the second
year, someone said we should meet Dr. Gorenberg and his wife, who were in town, and intro-
duced them to us.
G: Who, who was that?
M: Now, he is now our president of the board, but at the time, we had known them and we went
and talked to them about what was happening at the Hippodrome. Mainly, the main idea was
to get a donation of money, you know. And, but, and when we did that, Karen Gorenberg had
a lot of background in different management because her father was a finance, financial
manager-type person and both of them, she had run her husband's business so they both....
G: She was a member of the board of directors or just and advisor or....
M: This, this is before we had a board of directors, so they began to advise us on direction
to go as far as subscription drives, just financial advice. So at that time, we created
a board including them and some close friends of theirs really. And so it was more of a
friend board that would give us, that we would bounce ideas off of, that would give us
advice, would tell us what they thought of problems that we were having and what would be
the best direction to go in. They were not professionals, financial management people,
but we hadn't considered even the idea of subscriptions of fund-drives, of donations, of
whatever else -- all the logical things that people usually start with and then go into
the performing part of it, but we did it sort of backwards and hand-to-mouth for a long
time, where what would come in would go back out. If nothing came in, nothing went back
out. You know, we'd build our sets with discards, but if we got some money, we would be
able to spend a little more to do things. So that was how our board was originally formed.
As it developed, it was more of a friendly board until after we became more of a working
board as we made the transition from the warehouse to this building because we jumped into
-- and this was another thing that we did sort of on our own, and sort of created ourself --
we did a huge fund drive that we had received a National Endowment for the Arts/rant to
restore the Post Office building .
G: This was a fund drive for the new building.
M: For the new building, right. So we had with that grant, it was a challenge grant, and what
they do is they challenge the community to raise four times as much money -- how do I say
this -- for every four dollars that people give, the National endowment will give one
dollar, so it was a four to one match from the community, and you know, we looked at what
we had to raise.
G: Yeah, yeah, that would be an enormous amount.
M: Right. There was $775,000 and the endowment would donate $175,000 for a move from, for
the restoration of the building, actually. So at the time, we jumped into it just like we
did the theatf and found out that the community support was there. People were able to
pledge every three years and they became willing to be able to contribute, willing and able
to contribute to the theatre and we had never really askedtoo much before, except for
people to pay for their tickets to see the show, and sometimes we didn't even ask that. A
lot of times we did free shows for the community, so, so we began to see that with the
community, even though we had the audiences to prove to us that the community was behind
us, I would also say that we had financial support that we didn't even tap into, that we
didn't realize was really there, so that helped us make the transitions between the old
building and the new space.
G: Can you tell us something more about the fund drive, just what kind of gimmicks or
ways, you know?
M: We did a number of gimmicks, right, uh huh. Some of them worked. Some of them didn't.
We had extreme expenditure over a very short period of time. We had to raise the first
$175,000 in about three months, so that was a real tough one, but we bombarded the commun-
ity with, besides newspaper, radio, TV coverage, which a lot was done as public service for
us since we're non-profit.
G: By whom? By?
M: By just the "Gainesville Sun" and...
G: WUFTand 'Gainesville Sun"?
M: ...what, all the radio and television stations did some of that. We also did things, like
we did a fun run. So we had a run, which we had about 500 people who ran from the old
building to the new building and they paid a $5 entry fee and got a t-shirt and, you know,
everybody ran, ran. We did, there are other events, like dinners. We did parties. We did
telethons on TV. We showed a movie that offered sort of a history of the Hippodrome and
did what they did on public TV as far as solicit money from the community by calling in.
That raised about $20,000. And just the general awareness kind of exposure to the
community about what we had done in the past and what we were planning to do and what we
needed to do and how our finances worked and, I'm trying to think of other events. We
had concerts and some, I can't think of others. B6dr,,,
G: Just to place it in time, this was in which year?
M: Which was it? All my years are getting mixed up.1 1979.
G: That's when you...
M: That's when we got our
G: ...got your
M: And we also became a pet project of a number of different organizations: the professional
theat/giorganiztion called SADAC sort of adopted of us and sent people to counsel us
on management and on different, mostly management concepts, not, they don't really deal
too much with artistic. And they, as I said before, because of our unique, contemporary
style for this area of the country, the National Endowment supported'us and we became a
pet project of theirs, too, and also TCG, which is Theater Communications Group, gave us
a lot of exposure in their newsletters and things like that.
G: Well, what organization is it?
M: Theater Communications Group is mainly a service group for all the theaters in the country,
all the non-profit professional theaters in the country. It's sort of a communication
organization. What they do is they print a newsletter. It's gotten to be almost a book
now over the past five or six years and they do conferences where everybody gets together
and talks about artistic goals, about the development of theater throughout the nation and
what's happening regionally, what's happening nationally, and they began to give us a lot
of exposure which was nice because it was, it just related what we were doing to everybody
else in the country, which was nice, and made it more possible for people outside of
Gainesville to know who we are and what we are doing and for us to start to bring in
actors from outside who had heard of us and
G: But, you just said, before that time, did you use many actors from outside, or only
M: It was mainly Gainesville people, ourselves and....
G: At that time you still the same people as in the beginning, I mean, ourselves?
M: Ourselves. Yes. Most of us are the same people as in the beginning. Let's see, well the
five people I mentioned before. We all acted in the plays, the artistic directors,
founders of the theater all acted in the plays in the time, minor parts to major parts clnd
there were certain community people who we used often, There were people who were students
M: who were....
G: Can you mention some names?
G: Can you recall?
M: ...Mike Doyle, David Lane, Tom Embrozio, Dwane Ford, Kurt Orwick, you know, people, I don't
know if people know that, who they are. Anyway, so those people who have since, a lot of
them gone out and become professional performers and have since then come back and per-
formed for us again, so it was nice, because there are a lot of people who filtered through
in their early, early parts of their career and had some experience on the Hippodrome
stage and then became part of another theater group or became a type of free-lance type
professional who would be able to come back again and perform for us.
G: So the Hippodromeis not an isolated theater within the whole national circle of theaters?
M: Right. Yeah. There is a connection there. I mean, most people, for one thing, it seems
like Gainesville is a very circular community, that people come back to Gainesville often.
You know, it's not one that you leave and always, you never want to go back to because
there is something, there's a warm community feeling about, a smallness about as even as
much as it's grown now and an intimacy about Gainesville that I think people like to come
back to, so, and theater is the same, I mean, theater is also very circular and very
changeable. Sometimes it is amazing to do a role, have it be over and start again, you
know, in a framework of about a two-month period or directed or to see a set go up and
see the creation of this environment and see the whole thing come down in two or three
hours when it took two or three weeks to go up, a month to go up and then have it disappear
in two hours and then start again, so there's that kind of element about theater, that
it's always happening over and over and over, but you can never go back to any point and
really recreate it. It become something different,'even if you create the same play, or
you tour the same play, the production changes from insights from character changes from
different people being cast or whatever, so it's....
G: Did you also experiment with different styles?
M: Styles of theater?
page QO/mj b
M: Yeah. I think that we come from an energetic, very physical type of background. Energy.
Most of the directors have that, that somewhat in common, but because everybody directed
and because everybody has their own unique style, their own tendencies toward comedy or
drama or whatever, it was interesting working together and that took a long time to do,
actually work together in those artistic areas. It was a lot easier to work together work-
ing on a set, working on lights, those type of things because it didn't effect your
ego as radically, you know.
M: It didn't threaten. And it has taken usa number of years, all of us to develop a kind of
interaction where we can all give each other input on productions we are doing and everybody
is open to positive criticism and can use it and can make their play better, the play
they're directing better.
G: What is your favorite directing style?
M: My favorite directing -- well, I think I would have to say, For Colored Girls Who Have
Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf which I directed a year ago. I had a good
time recently doing Gin Game which is, you know, we're doing right now, but there was
something unique about the other play, For Colored Girls, because it was totally
unstructured. It was a choreopoem, which meant it was basically a poem that there were
six people who performed these different speeches or poetry type of things and it doesn't
sound as exciting as it was. Let me explain it. What would happen, though, is there were
no props. There were no costumes that related to what they were doing, so what I had to
find, within each character, was the ability to show someone this prop. If they needed to
show them a chair that wasn't there, to show them a person that wasn't there that they
were relating to, we had to find that in each of the characters who were, each of the
performers had to find that in themselves and I had to help them find that. Course, we
had to find movement and we had to find the sound that worked in and a way for these
people to relate to each other, so it was, it started with a blank surface, except for
the words that were there and it was, and I got to work in any direction that I happened
to be motivated and inspired. With the play that I recently did, the Gin Game, it's
totally structured, so here I was, you know, 3609 from where I was last year and it was
M: structured down to what card gets played at what time and there are fourteen games within
a ninety-minute period. So the structure there is so intense that each line was dependent
upon what card was there. Each movement away from the game, each movement to the game was
dependent on how much time you had to shuffle cards, how much time you had to deal, and
so it was a totally different experience. It was real interesting having those right
next to each other, you know, having done the other show as my last directing show and....
G: And the first show was last year in 1980? 1981?
M: '81, yeah.
G: Why did you make the change? Was it because of the policy of the Hippodrome you have to
direct of all kinds of games, or plays?
M: No, not really. What we do -- and this has gone through a developmental process, too --
is we usually all pick a season for the theater for the year and usually we have a giant
list of all different kinds of plays that we are considering and everybody reads. People
have seen different things in their travels to New York or around the country and we throw
everything into the hopper, so to speak, and toss it around and everybody talks about what
plays would be best forithe season, what plays are the most, give our audience the most
variety and we go through all these priorities that we have as far as which is the best
contemporary drama that we can possibly find, you know, and their writing and everything
about the plays, and just sort of tear things apart until we come down to a season between
us, between the four of us that we're happy with.
G: The four of you?
M: Yes, now there are four: Greg, me, terry McKenny, and Marshall, who I haven't mentioned
yet, who joined us our second year. And we find a season and with that, with that, we
divide up the season so that whoever is the most excited about any particular play would
direct it over that period of a year.
G: I see.
M: So, it just happened that....
G: Since you call it the collective decision which plays you...
G: ...will perform in the coming season?
M: Uh huh.
G: And then you
M: Then everybody fights about who's going to direct what and,..
SAfter you have chosen, selected the plays first season, you have them divided,
M: Right, up amongst the four of us to direct, and it's usually pretty easy because there
might be one play in conflict that everybody is real interested in, or that two people
are real interested in, but I think because we're all very unique, that we all have
tendencies in different directions.... I was the only one that wanted to direct the
Gin Game and I was the only one who wanted to direct For Colored Girls so it was easy
for me with my choices to direct the plays that I was interested in. Now, as far as,
I didn't really consider that they were those extreme different styles when I enrolled
myself in them. I think any of us are willing to undertake any style and, and the more
diverse, probably, the better, because the more experience you have in whatever. If you
end up doing traditional theater all the time, then you would probably become very bored
with the whole structure of it, the whole definition that's already existing, somewhat,
you know, of the blocking,of'the movement,and things like that, so I think all of us
like variety in, in our direction.
G: What are basically the styles and kind of productions you, you have played, you have
M: I have performed in. I have done all kinds of things. I've done some very tiny character-
type of roles. I've done roles, a large character role, like in Gemini. I play Lucille,
who was an Italian. I can get away with a lot of different ethnic groups because of
my looks, mediterranean in general. So, you know.
G: You are fast at anything.
M: So I got to play in Gemini, and then I had a large part in Vanities. The playAwas talking
about, there were only three of us in it, and I played the cheerleader who later won't
talk about her life and so that was a very interesting play to do.
G: Are you always casted or can you select your own characters?
M: Well, I've done some of each. Sometimes the director will approach you ahead of time and
\( // //
say, I really want you to play this role and sometimes you'd approach them and say, I
really want to play this role, what do you think, you know, and that's another place where
really want to play this role, what do you think, you know, and that's another place where
M: it's hard for egos, you know. Again, I liked the sets and the costumes and the things
like that. Somehow you're more involved in your performance and your direction. And~
like when I, I was also in The Boom Boom Room and Marshall asked me to play a woman who's
the matron of the club and it was, it was very funny because my parents had never seen me
perform before -- how come I can't say that? -- and my father and mother and brother came
up to see and they saw this particular performance and she's a very loose woman who has
a very sordid background and goes through a lot of the intimacies that she, you know, talk-
ing about the intimacies that she has had in her life, and that probably threw my parents
G: Did they ever come again?
M: Yes. They e CCn did when I performed inSouth Florida in Vanities and my
brother actually said he liked Boom Boom Room better, he liked my performance in that
better, but my parents loved \anities_. They didn't really know what to think of Boom
Boom Room. They didn't really want it to really reflect on my personality and understand
that that's what acting is all about, that you do these things, but you don't necessarily
have to be those things. So that was an exacting experience, but what I was saying was
Marshall approached me to perform in that role and Greg approached me to perform in
Vanities and there have been some roles that -- I can't remember which ones that I have
approached other people because it's bound to have, like something that would be, probably
in Gemini I probably said, This looks like the role that we would do for me. At one time,
we tried to assure ourselves that we would direct once a year and that we would act once
a year and we have sort of tried to a(t h4hc tI our priorities when we were
talking plays around.
M: This was probably...
G: The warehouse times, too?
M: ...huh? Probably in the warehouse times because we did use the local people more often
and probably because we haven't, hadn't gotten into more individualized areas of
administration and management and that type of thing. We were still working ensemble,
more ensemble, and so, because of that, we also could take the time to act and direct and
M: not have to be developing programs, writing grants, and those type of things. Those would
come, too, but when you were not directing or acting. But we try to do that once a year.
That isn't as big a priority, although directing is still a big priority and there's more
opportunity to do that now because there's four of us and we usually have seven shows a
year so it could easily....
M: Yeah, and it's easier to be involved in more than one in a year, as far as directing-wise.
G: You also work with directors from the outside and actors from the outside?
M: Actors from the outside. We've had, we've only had one director because so many of us
are directors, you know. It's hard when all of us are interested in the artistic rewards
of the amount, I mean, I think most lay-people don't understand the concept of, you know,
eighty hour weeks, the theater is built on eighty hour a week kind of work weeks for _
most people, so there have to be rewards for the work, whether it's~ r- a maybe, or
the mental management, administration, or....
G: What makes it that time-consumming?
M: I think, well, in the beginnings it was because everybody was producing. You know, they
were doing, they were trying to get a show up, they were acting in a show at the same
time, we were directing shows, you know, making the costumes for their shows, going out
and getting props for the shows, so everybody was,. .t was really a pretty constant thing,
you'd work all day and perform at night and go home and go to sleep and get up and be
ready to do that again and because of that kind of, you know, transient atmosphere where
things changed so often, there's always something new to do. And there's always something
more that you can do. No matter how much you do, you can always find some other area to
go into and something to make better or to work better so....
G: At night you're more looking for rewards?
M: Right, so the rewards are really the artistic rewards of directing acting and for some
people, I always enjoy costuming and designing -- these type of things. So there's our
reward for it, those kind of work weeks. Oh, I know what I was going to say. As the
theater developed it became more from production work we went, all of us went more into
administrative type of work, fund-raising, grant-writing. For example, I do the secondary
M: programs. I do film series. I do music, dance, any other,...
G: Those are all new programs?
M: Yeah, for this building. We did them sporadically throughout our history, but, developing
them as programs and keeping two stages working at the same time is my project. Marshall,
who I've mentioned a couple of times, Marshall New, is an artistic co-director, but
also he is our publicity director and he does most of the design work for ads and t-shirts
and posters and that type of thing and Kerry is our literary manager and*... iVAf o
As I was saying Kerry is the literary manager and she screens a ot of plays for us before
all of us have to read them and Greg is production manager, he does alot of PR work and
hf does Ilot of the projects like runs and fund runs and things like that and takes care
of the building, helped a\lot with .the development of the, the restoration of the
building and really does a\lot of the supervision for the technical staff so we all have
our functions other than artistic so, and that, and it's tended more in that direction
as what I was saying before...
G: What are / people work ?
M: We have house managers, we have...
G: Whose that?
M: Maggie Clevis is our house manager and we have the, our managing director Christina
Tanen and she does, you know, budgeting, working with the board, general problems, any
kind of personnel problems that might develop and, and in an institution like this,
is a hugh responsibility and, but she's, she's very organized, very good. Then we have
our whole Theatre in Education crew, Louie / Margaret Bacus are the main
artistic and managing directors and performers and they do bring in performers from,
from our talent pool to work in the Theatre in Education shows and what they do is they
take shows that are originated out of the Hippodrome, they create their own shows and
write their own shows and usually have music developed or written for those shows and
they usually take a few months to go ahead and develop a play and then they tour the,
the schools in the area and now really it's being extended even into the whole Florida
region. They're starting to tour...
G: The whole state.
M: yes, they starting to tour the State of Florida.and this program is developing pretty
strongly. Next year the, the tour will become more aex)aSSW h and might even go out of
G: These are all plays produced by the Hippodrome themselves?
M: Right, right. They're all original* script that are developed here in house and there
is, so far there's I believe six plays altogether that are children's plays that have
been developed here.
G: They are performed at all schools?
M: They're performed at all the Alachua County public schools. The Alachua County Public
School System usually supports the program and gives them a grant each year to make that
available to their students.
G: How, how does that go, a day at school? Do they just perform or...?
M: No, usually they do a performance for a,,usually they do two performances, one for
different age groups because they go anywhere from gf, t grade to or to about
-4ft or 7fW grade, whatever the, whei(bver the break is before you go to middle school...
G: That's good, yes.
M: and, and they do those performances, two performances and then they do a series of
workshops that combine different drama skills and improvisation, pantomimes, role-playing,
and just creative dramatics with the students. They do teacher workshops where they
just get a bunch of teachers together and give them examples of how they can work with
students in creative drama, whatever the subject might be.
G: That's for high school teachers or also primary school?
M: Well kky done both. We had a high school program in the past couple years that were
mainly like historical figures, the Bell of Amherst, that kind of show where a
person would perform a one person show for a high school which was about,,there are
about forty-five minutes pieces that they go in and perform in the high school situation.
But the funding wasn't continued really or the actor did it as a public service to the
high schools but the high schools really haven't picked up the program and paid for it
so we decided that in, in order to, to really provide the Theatre in Education Program
with the funds it needs for that particular,i:for the program that/working on with the
original scripts, that we would have to eliminate the high school program which is un-
fortunate because I think, you know, there's always a holiday for anybody when they
were in high school or...
M: or grade school, I think, to see a performance at least it was for a e I knew. You
always felt like you were getting out of something or something like that but at the
same time have a good time and being somewhat inspired by what happened there because
it was out of the ordinary, you know, for people that in school to be able to experi-
ence theatreA. But it's sort of a, it's sort of a general trend right now that funding,
federal and state funding is somewhat tighter, economics generally are not as good
and you know people are just fighting up and making sure that the things that are the
biggest priority are funded so that's what we try to do too.
G: But could that threaten the Theatre in Education/rogram?
M: Could what?
G: Threaten, ?
M: Threaten, threaten, to the high school program you mean?
G: Yes, well the whole Theatre in Education because I understood that it could continue
this'year because of the American Express...
M; Right, right. Well, questioning from your if the
support going to be there because it isn't, it isn't part of- fe National l cme
for the Arts doesn't have a,, they used to have an Artist in the SchoolAm= which
they eliminated completely so they, they don't have that anymore. The, the Fine Arts
Council of Florida is eliminating their's this coming year. The school board is...
7h e- S(VO I tI
M: yes, is questioning the validity of having, you know, and, and again it's a matter of
priorities, you know, ,f they're losing funds what would they eliminate and it, their
funding is necessary to support that program so in order for it to stay alive that has
to be there. It seems that as far as the outside touring that there is support out
there for people who aren't a residency and for a group to come in and do a show or
two shows and, and workshops with their school and so/they wouldn't be doing it a yearly
basis. They would do it, you know, it would be one time, twice a year so in that way
they feel like they can afford to do that where as -it's, it's a much larger commitment
for Alachua County schools because they're saying, we're going to give you the funds
to perform in all of our schools in the whole county and that's, that's a major commit-
ment but one that I think is really valuable to them and to us, you know, because
it's nice, your developing your audience from the time they're in first grade, you know,
lot of the people that we see at the theatre...
G: Where do you see them?
G: Do you see them back in the theatre?
M: Yes and as I say tja'e's alot of the people that we see now will come back and say that
they were in our original workshop classes ten years ago, you know.. raf they were six
at the time, they're 1 now, you know4 they were)4, 12 and now they're graduating from
college so it real interesting to see that happen, to see somebody that you taught, you /
Years agoa" in a in a children's workshop class/ coming back to the theatre
back to Gainesville and are now coming to the theatre all the time & al-jt's exciting
and, and that I think it's important culturallyrto develop your audience real early so
that, so that they, they have exposure and appreciation of art and so it would be un-
fortunate if because of all the federal and state and local cuts/that the arts again
dry up but they seem to be to most people / most obvious place to eliminate, you knows
I guess as far as priorities people think that it's more important to make sure that,
that people are learning to read and write and do arithmetic than to be inspired by,
you know, cultural events so, and it's
G: The same in the middle.
M: Yes, yes.
G: But you, you mentioned a talent pool...
G: /used in theatre and education program. What, of whom does it consist?
M: We have a number of people who are professional a-rtof s tf8f that exist locally. Some of
them work for us permanently and do what some of us do and work other jobs at the
theatre while they're not performing. Some of them are people who have come into
town and have performed professionally at other places and perform for us as, as often
as they can and so those people have performed in theatre and, and also there's been
t master's program at the university where interns will come and perform with the theatre
and, and do sort of a performance internship and so they will do a tour with them and
be one of the performers in:theatre and in a program and it would be a great experience
because youtJielp them develop a play, you know, you, and then you take it on tour which
is some thing that and -;t't-- an intensive tour, 4aiS you know, that happens over, you
know, about five weeks of performing every morning for the school program, you know,
and doing workshops too so, so I think it's a very valuable exchange and the students
get, I mean I wish there were the opportunities to do this type of things when I was
in school but, so there, there are alot of people who work with them in that ,-in that
way. I forget, one of the people you asked me of how he got in the theatre and you asked
me about the people who work here...
M: Other people like Rusty Selling, who's..one of our many actors, he's one of the people
who works .here, other times in.the box office and then, and then he is a performer on
stage and then Jessie is another person who has worked with us over the years. We have
our designers I mentioned Marilyn because she was one of our original designers,
original founders and has become our costume designer and her husband, Carlos
is our set, set designer, so they're husband and wife combo-team. That...
G: A happy couple.
M: Yes, and they both work, do designer work and Carlos was an architect graduate and also,
then went into the theatre, after that and then to technical theatre so he's incredible.
They're both incredible having central imaginations and extremely artistic designers.
G: What position did Dan have before he retired?
M: He was the Executive Director and did management work for the Hippodrome and he was with
us about.-Ai months.
G: He came in 1980?
M: Yes, he came in 1980. Right about the time we moved into this space actually.
G: Why did you create the unction in that time?
M: Actually, actually...
G: Was it a new function then ?..
M: Actually we had a couple of people who worked in that function over the years. Wasn't
quite that function but in a management, strictly management function rather than,
the rest, of: the people who are here are more into, in the design at least part-time
design and part-time whatever, you know, and we, we Ir doing this a couple times and
it jusf usually we had local people who really hadn't had extreme management experience
and.tha, was somewhat of a problem because we had / management experience from having
done it over the past years so we would just would wanted to be able to concentrate
more ongre specialized areas and our directing and our acting and be able to say, "OK,
somebody else can do the budgeting," and/you know, work with the board
those things happened because when your prioritizing and your into the, the production
of a theatre product, you know, your priorities have to be there, you have to have a
set-up, you have to have ready for an audience to come in as fas as rehearsal periods
and everything else but you don't have to, you know, sit down and work out letters and
communications and those kind of things which are so essential to a theatre to and so
there has to be somebody who isn't involved on this other side, you know, that is .js
just doing that type of work. We tried a couple/different ways,: we tried enlisting
ostsefs as that person over a period of time...
G: For a short period?
M: For, yes, but, but it's, it's also important to have some kind of longevity to it, you
know, to have a person be able to related to this person and be able to come back and
talk to him again and not say, "Oh, well, she's not doing it anymore now, somebody else
is doing it." So we, we began to feel the need and we did do that once before and like
I said it was a local person who hadn't had -ernugh experience and we began to feel the
need that, to have and were advised by and also had the big movement from
our old space into this big space and this giant fund raising drive and you know, that
type of, that type of momentum going where we felt like we n eeTn so constantly
looking at what was going on in the management side of the business. We had Christina
joined us around the time when we were doing our fund drive in 79-80 and she was becoming
that person, you know, that we needing but at the point where we were moving to this
building we were advised by this group of people, the people from professional theatres
background that we should go ahead and try to find someone who had, who had management
background and who had done for awhile and so we starting looking nationally for, for
a person, a management person and had interviewed a number of people throughout the
country and Dan just seemed to fit.*n the best with, with what we were doing and
our ideals and was work with us because all of us were
young and the theatre was young and growing and so, and we talked to him over a period
of about six months and he finally said that he was interested in coming and working with
us so he did. As we moved into this building he came and, and working with
G: Do you maintain that position?
M: Well now is Christina is basically our managing director or
executive director whatever the title might be and, and ye, *me- really,..Vfeva uating
the total structure from lets see what direction we need to go, if there's any over
lap in, in working situations and, and how to most efficiently use the energy of the
people that are here and, and we are considering not filling that position again and
so what we in somewhat aninflux, you know, we, we still are open to
changing but also are ready to, are still in the process of re-evaluating everything
that is going on. (End of tape)
G: (Beginning of tape) it's amazing to me how many people volunteer from the Hippodrome
Theatre. How, how did all those people get involved?
M: Well it really started pretty early, I mean from the very beginning we had people who
helped with sets and costumes and whatever else, of course it was a very small pool of
people compared to what we have now and ushers and house managers type people. Over the
years, as we moved into the new building though we really expanded the volunteers.
G: The new building is the old post office...
M: The old post office building...
M: downtown. We began to really expand because when we moved in here in August we did
lot of the work ourselves.
G: August, 80?
M: August, 80, 80, 80, yes. My years are so confused. We, we restored the third floor
pretty much from volunteers and ourselves. We took, litwas painted mostly institutional
colors, colors and there were, most of the woodwork was painted and most of the glass
was painted and so we did an extreme amount of work restoring all the woodwork and
things like that and all the offices on the third floor and with volunteer committees
painted and did all kinds of work on this floor. We also did work sessions
for giant clean-ups of the entire building where it was volunteer crews of Ur people
would come in and everybody would work on something cleaning, scrapping, helping get
rid of old wood with nails and, you know, things like that. On the first floor we ended
up opening it up somewhat because it was a maze of offices and we had volunteer crews
who helped do that. -Wr6 helped take down walls, tear up the linoleum which underneath
was marble and helped stripped down the marble walls because they were also painted
over. So we had volunteers, stripping is a .Lo te job anyway, you know, because you
have to use, you have to paint on this hot stuff that if it gets on your skin, burns
you. It's a trebtt- job but we had incredible help from, from the community on all of
that and had a series of volunteer days that we would just work for/eight hours usually
and people would come in like four hour sessions and we would just Wd1, just like
of the theatre, all of us would just be the, the unit leader who would tell
people what they needed to do next and, and it was exciting. There were children, there
were older and younger people who came and helped scrapef People who had been in
this building, you know, sixty years ago and people who were only ten years old were
helping move things and elrrp things and clean, so that was a time when we had really
a hugh influx$ of volunteers of people who were interested in seeing the stage and
helping it develop and there was a real excitement about the movement as it was going
and from that also developed lots of volunteer lists for, for things that happened
after that like we still are using the volunteers for strikes where we take down the
sets, you know, we usually get set down in two to three hours after a show over and
then the next set starts going up the next day and there's like a week to get the
next set up so we usually use volunteer help the night after the last performance of
a show. We have probably around thirty-forty people-who come and help tear the set
M: and take things down and we use people for volunteers/ ushers and house/anaging and
kinds of responsibilities and for the bar downstairs and then things like mailing and
secretarial type work. There are alot of people who come in and volunteer one day a
week and come in once a week and answer phones and help us send out prescriptions and
do all kinds of secretarial filing work and things like thqt. So really the Hippodrome
al ott '.. -'C^ .'T ; P, '-a tn -r
runs probably alot of, alot of the work, you know, as of the work is done through
volunteer labor which is really exciting community support. Where people are actually
donate hours to a project like this ...
G: Like I can also remember that when the new building was opennTr there was alot of
o h I Y. .',',
volunteers organized th l -ope fpnrg.
M: Yes, we had, there were different volunteer parties and things like that and that
happened and there was jlot of activity at the beginning where and there were allot
of times when we had shows that we invited all the volunteers and everybody would come
together and see the, see the show. That was exciting.
G: Did you also have some institutionalized organizations of volunteers like...I can't
/ / 1/ 7/
remember that I read something about Volunteers in Action or Volunteers in Need.
M: Oh, oh, there is a groups like RSVP which is a retired citizens group that comeSand
there main function of that whole project is to get older people out into the community
and working on different projects. They do alot of our mailing. There is VolunLaree
:Action which is a group that works through out Gainesville mainly getting younger
people involved in different projects, and they also have gotten involved in things
like Christmas Carol. When we do Christmas Carol we usually have troups of Girl Scouts
and Boy Scouts who help us collect the food. Usually when you come to see Christmas
Carol you can get in for free but you bring two cans of food.to, to give to poor people
who can't afford to eat at Christmas time so and usually we',have the Girl Scouts and
Boys Scouts collect it for us and put it in boxes and then the Salvation Army comes
and picks it all up and we'll, we'll have, you know, hugh brownies treats at times
like that and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts come g. help us with that and Voluntary Action
usually coordinates all the toys that come in. You can either bring A.cans of food
or a toy and get in to see the show for free and Voluntary Action takes care of getting
the toys together and getting them out into the community to people who can't afford
to buy their children toys at Christmas time. So there is those type of organizations
that exist in town. We don't have an official volunteer organization kit, card carrying
organization but we do have an extreme amount of volunteers. We also have a guild,
the Hippodrome Guild, who are people in-the community who mainly provide services to
the theatre like they do fund:raisers, they organize the opentrrg nights of each,
of each show/there's a big party afterwards where there's wine and cheese and just
little 6fl Ck snacks and the whole audience gets to meet the actors and the actors
get to talk to (lot of people in the audience and the director gets to get response
from people and so it serves a real communal kind of thing where everybody comes down
stairs and there just an open forum basically and people are, are enjoying a party
at the same time. So that the guild usually organizes that too and throw parties for
the actors when they come into town and do things like that which is nice and that's
also a volunteer type of committee that they have, that we have, are official, you know,
if you have an official volunteer organization that would be, that would be it.
G: While we are going to the end of the interviewing I want to ask you a few things
we mentioned but didn't elaborate on...
G: that's mainly about the new building. First of all, I think we didn't locate the
warehouse where it was.
M: Oh, the warehouse was on 441. It was 1640 NW 53rd Avenue and it's out on the set--sLrti s
passed the, the cattle se44s, you know, you can hear the cows "mooing" out beyond the
Hippodrome if you stood outside. It's, it's right passeflthe city limits., on the other
side of town from where we first started.
G: And then you made a promotion to downtown?
M: Right./ we finally made it to the heart of Gainesville to downtown into a wonderful
building that used to be the courthouse for Gainesville and also the post office.
The first floor was a post office area and the second floor which is the main stage
is, was a courtroom which was really adaptable to being a staged area because it was
a gigantic open space, and had/judge's chambers, and the judge's
chambers to be the back stage area. We converted the first floor into a second stage
space which is a 4~2 feet theatre and an Art Gallery that surrounds it, and...
G: For what kinds of ftaiUd do you use the, the second stage?
M: The second stage is for alternate kinds of performances. Experimental theatre, music,
dance. There's a film series tht going now and, what else, a story-telling, whatever,
whatever other performances we want to provide to the community and besides performance...
G: How does it look like?
M: How does it...?
G: The theater /~7 f~ r
M: How does it look? It's, it's a little bit strange. We, when it was designed it was
designed in a sort of a new shape so that the, when you, the gallery surrounds the
entire area and if you go through the Art Gallery, the visual arts, the you can go
into -tm large doors and get into the second, second stage space and is pretty much
the, the black box concept of being not a, a stage in the rest just pretty much an
open space that can be converted to the performances of musical.groups or can be con-
verted into a stage setting set for theatrical performances. The basement...
M: is, we converted, was converted into a, into the dressing rooms and prop area, where
props are created. Also on the first floor I forgot to say, is, is also the shops
for the, the building of all the sets and4has a trap that goes through the floor and
into the main stage area where we move all of our, all the big set pieces and then,
and build them down stairs, move them through this hole in the floor to the upstairs
and put them all together up there and do the same thing/when we take a set down and
the third floor is grti/office space. TJs- a rehearsal hall, costume shops and a little
kitchen in it and that's about it up here. The would be a nice space to
eventually convert into because it's, it's very spaces but would have to be floored
and everything and we really haven't gotten to that yet but it would be a good space
for a costume storage kind of area where you could really, we have a costume storage
in the basement right now but our poor costume has to run from the third
floor to the basement everytime she wants to pull something so it would be nice to
have that in the attic and be able to have __ another major project
for us which I think for, major slowdown, slowdown right now on the emphasis on the
building and, and work more on the emphasis on the plays and just the theatre develop-
G: Can you give a short description of the main stage?
M: The main stage is a three-quarter round as was in the warehouse seating arrangement and
it's around Z3 feet. ItF' has a thrust type of stage area that we convert into
'* I (';
whatever. Right now it's the fEir-st porch of a, a back porch of a old age home and
so it became the porch area of the set and the rest set is, we use the back area
which is, which used to be the judge's chambers to build the rest of the set and for
G: Well we are almost at the end of the interview. What I wanted to ask you as a kind
of conclusion or (pd(C'\'/' How do you consider the, the last 0 years
in member of the Hippodrome?
M: It's been exciting and/never really been any dull moments. It changes from, from one
moment to the next. There's also projects to work on. There's always growth to, to
be directed towards and O-s seems like it's been an endless education because I've
done everything from technical to management to artistic and, and feel like I've been
able to develop any kind of skills that I needed to, to cope with any particular event
at the time so it's been, it's real exciting and it's exciting right now being in this
space, to have gone through the other spaces which I wouldn't have given up for any-
thing and to be in this space and have the kind of, the feeling of the kind of
community support that we have. To feel the excitement of seeing new programs develop
and becoming more of just a cultural outlet for Gainesville generally and, and knowing
that it's, that I'm somewhere part of the development and excitement and/The Hippodrome
is very exciting.
G: You mainly mentioned the highlights but there's also low...
G:,,low times. Like for you personally/ the Hippodrome.
M: Well, there's, there's has been very, very many transition /. For one thing you have
to be very self-motivated,/have to find your own place in what direction, what direction
you want to move in, what administrative position that your most capable of doing.
Those transition periods are somewhat difficult, even,-even now having directing
play and being/artistic director and then going back into my administrative position
after that going into program development/responsibilities is a major transition and
it's P' i different from one minute to the next, so
you have to be very adaptable and at times people are more adaptable than others,
you know, so there's been those kinds of things that have happened that have made
it kind of harder. We've been, there has been times when haven't gotten along wonder-
ful and there's some times when we, you know, worked out. So there's
been, there's been ups and downs for it all but I think generally people feel the
M: energies more than the negative or it wouldn't be here because it is, it is the one
negative thing that it is so much work and people always asked,"/what do you do in
that it isn't,
the day time?" or you know, they think that theatre is play and/they.don't really
see the discipline that is necessary and the hours that go into it and somehow
think that a set is magically created, you know, and that the costumes, you know,
appear and, and it's, it's intensive work so and, and it's always at that level of
high energy so you have to be able to, to bear that kind of intensity...
M:.,,at all times, but, but for me it as been very positive and it has become more and
more positive in the last few years because I'm excited about what I'm doing
administratively because it's somewhat artistic because I get to play around and see
what's happening in different, different cultural.areas.where you could play around
in music and, and I get to see what films are, and, and stay in contact with those
different art forms and help develop a program for the Hippodrome and with the
Hippodrome creditability and at the same time be able to have the freedom to do to be
able to say, "I think this will work, I think that will work," and, and 'Er it's
the same way we do with our plays in different area of the theatre/then film and
thosetype of things and, and for me it's become more and /positive as far as
relations with the,people/I work with and that/nice, you know,
it, it takes years for people to sakv into a comfortable situation where you can relate
both personally and professionally with people and accept feedback and give feedback
those type of things have been working out more and more.
G: Well thank you Mary Hausch. I'really enjoyed it.
M: Good. Thank you.