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Living Culture in Action – Workcenter's Open Program at the Hippodrome Theatre


This fall, the Hippodrome Theatre welcomes the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards for a two-week residency as the culmination of a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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
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
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
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 ChoirThe 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.



Kelly Atkins

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Tim Altmeyer

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Logan Wolfe

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Mark Woollett

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Community Partner Nights are BACK!

The Hippodrome Supports Local Non-Profits and Increases Access to the Arts through the upcoming COMMUNITY PARTNER NIGHTS

This January, the Hippodrome Theatre is once again partnering with nine community organizations through Community Partner Nights. Community Partner nights create an opportunity for local non-profit organizations to collect donations and gather support, while offering discounted tickets to theatre-goers who attend the spring line-up of productions.

Community Partner Nights highlight the Hippodrome’s commitment to the core values of community and the ability to provide quality programs, partnerships, and related services to the audiences we serve; diversity, as the arts are a vital part of a healthy, equitable society, to which people of all ages and backgrounds have a need and right to belong, embracing all people and communities as united under a common artistic experience; and audience through our work to cultivate and engage a diverse and responsive audience through exceptional service, respect, and access.

Community Partner Nights start January 10 with the award winning play, Collected Stories, and aim to build bridges across non-profit organizations and re-invest the support the Hipp has received over the past year during the Keep Gainesville Hipp campaign. On each of the upcoming Community Partner nights, the Hippodrome will offer $25 tickets to Collected Stories, Women in Jeopardy and The Elephant Man. $10 of that will go directly back to the community organization.

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The investment entrusted to the Hippodrome through the Keep Gainesville Hipp campaign is returned to the community through the strategic leveraging of resources for the greater good and for the expansion of mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships. The Hippodrome strives to exemplify an open and accessible cultural resource for all to enjoy.

As a cornerstone of Gainesville’s robust cultural life, the Hippodrome has a legacy of providing the very best in artistic excellence through programming on the mainstage, cinema, special events, and its award-winning education program. Now in its 42nd year, the Hippodrome is a non-profit, professional regional theatre serving hundreds of thousands of audience members annually.

Join us in supporting the worthy local organizations at Community Partner Nights.


The Hippodrome will receive NEA Grant

Through its grant-making to thousands of nonprofits each year, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) promotes opportunities for people in communities across America to experience the arts and exercise their creativity.

In the second major grant announcement of fiscal year 2015, the NEA will make a $30,000 award to the Hippodrome Theatre toward the creation and production of “The Hidden Sayings,” a community-centered theatre work in collaboration with the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. The NEA will make 1,023 awards totaling $74.3 million nationwide in this funding round.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The NEA is committed to advancing learning, fueling creativity, and celebrating the arts in cities and towns across the United States. Funding these new projects like the one from the Hippodrome Theatre represents an investment in both local communities and our nation’s creative vitality.”

The Hidden Sayings is an exploration of old African-American songs of the U.S. South as vehicles for contact and meeting with church communities. The Hippodrome will collaborate with a team of international performers from the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in producing a theatrical work that shifts boundaries of performance within the traditional theatrical landscape, and bridges the work of Jerzy Grotowski into cultural communities across the southern United States.

The Hippodrome is interested in investigating a long-term project seeking to discover the very core of theatre, the moment of immediate contact between human beings. The Hippodrome is committed to develop connections with communities and individuals – mainly outside established theatre circles- to ask together: what can the shared impact of this art be a vehicle for? What and who can it serve? How can it be useful in and around us?

With a grant from the NEA, the Hippodrome is creating an encounter between the Workcenter and the Hippodrome as further experimentation in its development practices. For 29 years, the Workcenter’s praxis has been articulated as an investigation on ancient songs of the African and Afro-Caribbean tradition. From 2007 onwards, the internationally-composed Open Program team directed by Mario Biagini, have been tracing a new branch of this research, exploring African-American songs of the U.S. South as vehicles for remembering, restoring, and nourishing the dignity, creativity and unknown potentialities of human spirit. Located not far from the locations where these songs originated, the Hippodrome felt this collaboration could prove a fertile ground of research for both companies.

Together, we wish to explore these songs as vehicles for contact and meeting with church communities in Gainesville. This will serve as a platform not only to expand the work of the Hippodrome’s company and its artists, but further investigate the possibility of international collaboration as a way to expand established models of regional theater. The desire for this endeavor comes from the necessity to analyze how the performing arts can catalyze and benefit from a meeting between cultural communities and experienced arts practitioners in order to engage new audiences in regional theater.

Located in the southern United States, the Hippodrome has access to some of the oldest African American churches where a living performative tradition exists outside the performative field. We want to make a movement that this living tradition is not a folklore, and bring these two different planes of theater and church communties together to manifest a performative event that like a church service, starts with an interpersonal and perception quality and arrives to another level of interaction, perception, and ultimately presence.

The culmination of this collaboration will result in the premiere of The Hidden Sayings on the Hippodrome mainstage along with symposiums on oral history in collaboration with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Michael Littig, Hippodrome company member, who created the seed for the project said, “To me, the Hippodrome has always been a place that pushes boundaries. I’m honored to join forces with the Hippodrome leadership to create this unique opportunity for Gainesville audiences and create opportunities for others to feel the sense of home I feel when I walk through the doors of the Hippodrome.”

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring2015.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov


The Hippodrome's 2015-2016 Season

The Hippodrome Theatre today announces a bold season of plays for the 2015/16 Season, featuring eight enthralling productions, including a partnership with the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance, regional and world premieres, Tony Award-winners, and a dazzling new holiday offering.

“The Hipp is honored to present our 43rd season – a beautifully wrapped gift just waiting to be opened. It will fill your heart, soul, and mind; it will make you laugh, think and feel. The productions on the Hipp stage in the new season will create memories that last a lifetime, while expanding your appreciation of the world around you,” said Artistic Director Lauren Caldwell.

The Hippodrome’s season will feature actors from the Hippodrome Acting Company, accompanied by talent from across the country, in accordance with its mission to nurture a strong company of actors, directors, designers, technicians and administrators.


View the 2015-16 Season


Spring Break Camp and Educational Courses

Spring Break Camp

MARCH 21-25, 2016  •  Junior Ensemble (ages 7-12) & Teen Ensemble (ages 13-18)

Register online

At the Hipp, the fun never stops! Join the Hipp for a great SPRING BREAK CAMP or look into other  educational opportunities for art and theatre enthusiasts of every age.

The Hippodrome offers Spring Break Camp, a full day camp that coincides with Alachua County spring break. Young people enjoy five fun-filled days of theatre that conclude with a showcase and reception for family and friends. Campers will be introduced to the inner workings of a professional theatre through workshops and classes with theatre professionals. At the end of the camp, family and friends are invited to a reception and showcase highlighting scenes and art work the campers created.

To register your child and for more information about ALL the acting opportunities the Hipp has to offer, visit this page.