Rusty Salling, one of Gainesville’s greatest and best loved talents, took his final bow early Sunday morning, June 12, after bravely and fiercely battling cancer for more than a year. Rusty graced the stage of the Hippodrome Theatre from its earliest years, wowing audiences with some of the best performances in the theatre’s history. Rusty starred or was featured in 99 Mainstage plays from 1973 on, and was the author and guide of the Hippodrome’s legendary Ghost Tour, but was best known for his brilliant portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Hippodrome’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” From the first offering of the show in 1978 to his last performance in December 2014, Rusty brought joy to thousands of theatre patrons. He initially played Bob Cratchett, but for more than 25 years his Scrooge was the face of the holiday season for countless loyal fans.
Rusty was smart, kind, and extremely loyal. He worked so tirelessly for the Hippodrome that he had to be forced to take time off, and even then he would never refuse to take phone calls from colleagues in need. He would do anything for anyone and would do it well. For years he ran the box office, and when that ceased to offer him enough of a challenge he became the Information Systems Director for the theatre. With the help of interns, which he supervised with paternal patience, he devised, designed and ran the entire computer network for the theatre. He designed and operated the website and performed countless other tasks, never giving up until a solution was found to the problem at hand.
Rusty was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 17, 1948. His family moved to Jacksonville when he was a teenager, and he left to attend the University of Florida in the late 1960s. English was his major, but he soon discovered the theatre department and developed a passion for the stage that never faded. He fell in love with Gainesville and lived there for the rest of his life except for a life-broadening three-year stay in Manhattan in the mid-70s. After college, Rusty joined with friends in forming a theatre touring company known as Bacchus Productions. The most significant piece performed by that company was a year-long tour of “Waiting for Godot” throughout the southeastern United States. Rusty mesmerized audiences, including the inmates of 12 Florida prisons, with his enchanting performance. After Bacchus, Rusty moved to New York and then back to Gainesville in 1978 to join the Hippodrome, where he remained dedicated to the theatre for the rest of his life, becoming an icon in the cultural history of the city.
Rusty is survived by his sister, Susan Pfahler, her husband Randall Pfahler, and his nephew Cameron Pfahler, all of Neptune Beach, and his beloved step-dad, Leon Clark, of Jacksonville. In lieu of flowers, Rusty’s family requests that contributions be made in his memory to the Hippodrome Theatre.
Bill Paine and Susan Nash: LOOK WHAT WE FOUND!
The Hippodrome Art Gallery features local artists Bill Paine and Susan Nash. The longtime Gainesville locals specialize in found-object art created using vintage and household items, inspiring the name for the gallery “Look What I Found!” Susan, who discovered her passion and imagination years ago, says she and Bill inspire each other and help one another when pieces need a second opinion. The married couple has been together for 20 years, sparking a life full of creativity and imagination. They redefine the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and they say that most of their material comes from junk shops, antique stores, or from friends who drop unwanted items on their front porch. The gallery features 16 lamps created by Bill, a former IT tech which beautifully illuminate the room. It also features 31 of Susan’s sculptures which use the repurposed items to bring new meaning to the things they were created with. Items used in their art include old colanders, painted tuna cans and the leg of an old piano.
The unique collection will run from January 5-February 5, and will celebrate with an Art Walk reception on Friday, January 27 from 7-10pm. Pieces are available for purchase at the Hippodrome Box Office.
Do you want to take your writing or public speaking skills to the next level? In this six week class, students will strengthen these skills and challenge their creativity by exploring found and improvised texts in the forms of monologues, scenes, storytelling, poetry, and free association. Hippodrome company member Nichole Hamilton will teach various vocal and physical techniques, text and actor intent, and guide the class in creating a collaborative piece which will be performed at the final session. This class is intended to be accessible to all skill levels. Register by calling Education Program Coordinator Gabrielle Byam at 352.373.5968 ext 230 or online here. $149 for 6 sessions.
Nichole Hamilton is a self proclaimed gypsy – having lived, worked, and studied in over seven states across the country.
She is an actor, director, stage manager, and instructor currently teaching adjunct at the University of Florida. Nichole holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Montevallo, an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida and is a company member at the Hippodrome Theatre where she has been seen on stage since 2008. Nichole is also a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.
This August, the Hippodrome honors outstanding local artists in our gallery and celebrates the launch of our 44th theatrical season at the August Art Walk. Sara Morsey, Lorelei Esser and Marilyn Wall are three of our area’s most renowned artists, and together they form a powerhouse trio of imagination and creativity. The Hipp is honored to display new works by the award-winning theatrical performers and designers. Stroll through their new exhibit in the Hipp Art Gallery, and watch the sunset over downtown Gainesville while local musicians Jason Hedges and Sarah Darden perform live acoustic music on the front porch.
The historic Hippodrome building will be open for tours on August 26th at 7:30pm and 8:30pm by Hipp Managing Director Jessica Hurov, along with special pricing one-day pricing our mainstage season passes. Come meet the artists, musicians, Hipp staff, share a glass of wine or two, and join us in celebrating the new season of artistic excellence at the Hipp! The event is free and open to the public.
The Hippodrome Theatre is proud to host the legendary theater company, the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, in collaboration with the National Endowment of the Arts. This collaboration is the first-of-its-kind for the Workcenter in North America: the Hippodrome Theatre is proud to be the first regional theatre in the States to host in residence this international ensemble, which members come from all over around the world, including Italy, Poland, Colombia, Lebanon, Brazil, France, and Canada.
During its residency in Gainesville, the Open Program will present one of its latest performative works, The Hidden Sayings: directed by Workcenter’s associate director Mario Biagini, this performance has toured all around the world and will now be seen for the first time by Gainesville audiences.
During the Workcenter’s residency in Gainesville the public is invited to participate in the following events, which are free and open to all. Space is limited, so advance reservations are suggested by calling the Hippodrome Box Office at 352.375.4477.
|Thursday, October 27 and Thursday, November 3
THE OPEN PROGRAM STUDIO
Hippodrome Basement 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
|Come learn acting and singing FREE with an international performing group. Open to all ages and experience! In this FREE session –open to artists, amateurs, and interested youths and elders, participants will work with songs and acting practices currently explored by the Open Program team of actors, primarily songs of tradition from African-American communities in the American South and Afro-Caribbean songs. The objective is to pass on the tools of the actor’s craft as developed by the Workcenter since its beginnings in 1986.|
|Saturday, October 29 and Friday, November 6
THE HIDDEN SAYINGS
Oct. 29: Hippodrome Mainstage 1 p.m.
|Nov. 6: Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church 4 p.m.
Be immersed in a flowing chorus of dynamic and lively African-American songs. The performance has been in constant development over the past four years. The theatre artists sing songs passed down from the days of slavery and read ancient texts related to Christianity’s origins. Explore the roots of the civilization you now live in through this powerful experience. The desire for this event is to awaken your senses and broaden your interactions with others while respecting and transcending cultural differences.
|Wednesday, November 2
FILM SCREENING AND CONVERSATION
Hippodrome Cinema, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
This is a unique opportunity to see videos documenting past works of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. Together, we will engage in conversation about quality, arts, serving, community and other topics of interest to the guests of the open forum. This is in collaboration with the UF Oral History Project.
ACTION in Aya Irini
Realized by a film team led by Jacques Vetter, France, 2004.
Produced by ACCAAN -Atelier Cinema de Normandie.
Thomas Richards’ opus Action, created by Richards at the Workcenter in 1994, is composed of detailed lines of actions constructed with and around ancient vibratory songs from African and Afro Caribbean traditions. Though created within the field of Art as Vehicle, which focuses on the impact an opus can have on the doers, those doing, Action has been performed before thousands of people, always in small groups. In 2003, the piece was recorded in the Byzantine church Aya Irini in Istanbul when it was done as part of the Workcenter’s three-year “Tracing Roads Across” project, supported by the EU’s “Culture 2000” program and a network of cultural institutions from five different countries.
|Saturday, November 5
Hippodrome Mainstage, 1 p.m.
The culmination of this residency will lead to integrating members of Gainesville communities in the Open Program performative event The Open Choir. The Open Choir is a free, public event, where everyone is welcome to participate. A core of Workcenter artists leads participants and guests, through a flow of songs, looking for the possibility of an alive experience and interaction. Everyone is invited to join in song and dance, or find his or her own way to support what happens.
These non-sectarian encounters through songs of the African diaspora allow participants of very different backgrounds to become co-authors of the meeting, creating an artwork that both respects and transcends cultural differences, an art event that embraces all guests.
HIPPODROME / WORKCENTER OF JERZY GROTOWSKI AND THOMAS RICHARDS PARTNERSHIP is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Hippodrome programs are sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council; and by the City of Gainesville, Dept. of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs.