Hipp 6 A Podcast – Act 1

Funding for this podcast was provided by a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Act 1

On April 18, 1973, the Hippodrome Theater was officially founded in Gainesville, Florida. In this episode, Hippodrome founder Gregory von Hausch tells the story of the founding of the theater and its early triumphs and struggles. 

Ryan George 00:15
When you see the Hippodrome Theatre for the first time, you’re struck by the building. It’s ornate Beaux Arts Architecture makes it seem like the Hippodrome was always there. an integral part of Gainesville, Florida. But that wasn’t always the case. The current Hippodrome downtown is the third location. Actually, it started on the outskirts of town.

Gregory von Hausch 00:37
There were places that would be great that we couldn’t afford. We finally found his place on Hawthorne road that was a plumbing warehouse. Everybody thought it was a vacant 7/11 because it had the big glass windows.

Bruce Cornwell 00:53
Dear old I think he was named Mr. Thompson, when we walked into negotiate with him, and I’m looking at the building. And he was, he was a good old boy, he didn’t really believe that we were trustworthy. So he gave us an ultimatum. He said, If you boys go and shave off your beards and cut your hair, I’ll tell you, I’ll rent you this building. But otherwise get out, get out of here, you know. A week later or a few days later, we came back with our clean shaven and haircuts. And he was so shocked that he, he rented us the building on the spot. So we took it, it was the only thing we could find, and we were really happy with it.

And that’s how the Hippodrome found its first home way out on Hawthorne road, as told by Gregory von Hausch and Bruce Cornwell. It was the early 1970s in Gainesville, Florida. The Hipp started in 1972, with an official founding date of April 18 1973 by six artists, Bruce Cornwell, Gregory von Hausch, Mary Hausch, Carrie McKinney, Marilyn Wall and Orin Wechsberg, most of them University Florida students. The six members wanted to bring a new kind of theater to Gainesville, one that was more contemporary, experimental, and political. The Hippodrome members began as outsider artists in Gainesville, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable in the small community. In its first season, the Hippodrome presented seven mainstage productions and toured two productions for children, the six members performing all the different roles necessary for putting on a show. Eventually, they gained notoriety and success. The Hippodrome and the old post office building downtown is now one of the icons of the city. But how did this theater go from a convenience store out on Hawthorne road to one of the symbols of the city? What are the untold histories of the theater? Those are the stories we’re going to tell you in this podcast series. The Hipp Six, the podcast illuminates the struggles and triumphs of creating a small regional avant-garde theater. Before we begin, let me introduce myself. I’m Ryan George, a graduate of UF’s School of Theatre and Dance, currently living in New York City. My journey with the Hipp began back in 2010, when I was cast in the show Defiance during my last semester at the school. The play was set during the Vietnam War, in which a colonel promotes a black officer to ease racial tensions. But the black officer learns that the colonel has had an affair with the private’s wife, the black officer must decide how to do the right thing. It was directed by Mary Hausch, just before she left the Hipp in her leadership capacity. My experience of the Hippodrome has been a wonderful and artistically challenging adventure. It’s a place that’s allowed me to grow as an artist and as a person in ways I didn’t expect from being cast in multiple shows to directing to becoming a company member, thanks to Lauren Warhol Caldwell, to now having a stronger voice and desire to see the Hipp grow towards a more inclusive, diverse and expansive future under its new leadership helmed by Stephanie Lingey. I’ve been fortunate to build great relationships with many of the people who’ve come through those doors from the artists, designers, staff, to even the volunteer ushers. There’s a love for the Hipp that is truly tangible. Although Gainesville is a more progressive university town, the surrounding areas of North Central Florida, were not.

Gregory von Hausch 04:28
A guy that owned it, Mr. Thompson. He was pretty much a bigot. He just wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any black people there , but he used different words. He said, you know, if God had intended them to be together, he would have made everybody the same color. That was his reasoning. And over the course of that summer of 74, while we were trying to build the theater, we also taught summer workshops that one of the kids we taught was actually an African American kid, Ronnie Dorsey, I think was his name. And every time Mr. Thompson would pull up in his pickup truck, to get the rent or shoot the bull with us or whatever we’d have to hide Ronnie.

Ryan George 05:15
From the beginning, the Hippodrome struggled with being an inclusive space, the themes from Defiance, my first show with the Hipp in 2010, of race in the Vietnam War, were relevant to the Hippodrome in the 1970s and even now, a couple years after becoming a company member, my goal has been to expand the love I feel for the Hipp, to the communities and audiences who haven’t felt as welcomed, who felt their stories weren’t capable of being told on that stage. That kind of work is hard, and had some initial growing pains when I began to speak on it, but it’s work worth fighting for, and the Hipp is progressing in that direction. Before we get started, let me also introduce my podcast colleague, Lauren Burrell, Cox, Lauren’s a film PhD candidate at UF. The podcast project started when Lauren began collecting the Hippodrome’s oral histories. She’s kind of our on the ground reporter. And she’ll be telling some of these stories. Act One, Gregory von Hausch. Let’s get this show on the road.

Lauren Cox 06:31
Originally, I was supposed to be an archival intern with the Hippodrome in the summer of 2020. But I think we all know how that went. Archiving from home wasn’t really an option, and with the pandemic, in person theater was at a standstill. I’m a film PhD candidate at UF studying archives and documentary and experimental film. The Hippodrome had always been a vital part of the downtown community during my time in Gainesville. And I wanted to find a way for the Hipp to reach an audience, despite the forced isolation of the pandemic. That’s how the idea for the podcast started. I talked it over with Gabby, my internship supervisor and the Director of Education at the Hippodrome, and she greenlit the idea. At first, the podcast was supposed to be one 30-minute episode about how the Hippodrome got to the old post office building downtown. However, once I started talking to people related to the Hipp, the story just kept growing, and I had way too much tape for one episode. By the end of the summer, I talked with all the living founding members of the Hippodrome. In some weird way, I don’t think this project would exist if it weren’t for the pandemic. The COVID crisis forced theaters to radically adapt, and it felt like the right time to revisit the 1970s, another moment of radical change, especially for the local theater community. I started talking with people in May of 2020. We were at that point where everyone had been social distancing for a couple months. And I think people were in a unique place to talk about their experiences. Greg’s the first person I talked to, and things really got going from there. So in this episode, we’re going to tell you the story of how the Hippodrome got it start with the help of Gregory von Hausch. All right, so I’m actually not going to start from the beginning of the Hippodrome, that’s going to come later. I think the story that really embodies the ragtag and do it yourself attitude of the founders is exemplified by Greg and Kerry’s trip to the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, which did not go according to plan. It’s kind of one of those Hippodrome moments, you’ll hear about some of those. At this point, the Hippodrome had been around for a little while. They had gotten some small grants and state funding. But now they were ready, or so they thought, for the big time for the NEA. If you don’t work in the arts, the National Endowment for the Arts is the premier arts funder in the US. Getting a grant from the NEA can make a theater, going to the NEA. This was making it big. That is if they made a good impression.

Gregory von Hausch 09:11
We had made contact with one of the staffers there, and he invited us up. Carrie and I flew up there with no luggage. We were gonna fly back the next day. We had, I think we had like $25 petty cash. We carried these scrapbooks with us that had all of our clippings and photos and everything like that. We tell the receptionist we’re here to see the staffer. They said oh, I’m so sorry. He’s not in today. Can you come back tomorrow? We’ll call and we’ll let you know if he’s in. We said well, or no, we’re, we have an appointment with him. We’re only here this morning. We were flying back in the afternoon. She says oh dear, okay. As she turns around, she goes into the office of the theater director of the National Endowment whose name was Ruth Mayleas. We all of a sudden we’ve heard this outbursts from Mayleas just cursing and just really, tremendously upset. This receptionist comes back meekly and says I’m so sorry, we, we never have people come and visit us we realize how vital your dollars are and the National Endowment would never asked someone to come here at their expense. We just don’t do that. While she was telling us this, out of the office storms Ruth Mayleas. To us now we’d heard about what a real ballbuster she was. We were already frightened of her without even meeting her and just hearing her voice. And she comes out and more or less, repeats the tirade Kerry and I are just looking shell shocked like we’re sitting in front of, you know, an alien or something. And eventually, after about 90 seconds of this tirade, we see that she sees the look on our faces. And she realizes she’s kind of gone overboard. She begins to soften a little bit. He finally allows us to speak and I explained what had happened and everything and I was so sorry. And she’s starting to melt a little bit. She is okay, five minutes, five minutes. That’s all I’ll give you. Then she turns and walks back to her office, and Kerry and I gather up our scrapbooks and everything. We assume we’re supposed to follow her. But as she goes by the reception with her back still towards it. She says, I’ll buzz you when I can come in. I guess she lets to an appropriate time go by and she finally invites us into her office. We go in and she’s still being pretty stoic with us. We offer her our scrapbooks. And no, no, I don’t want to see them it’s not necessary. And so we start telling her stories about how we got the theater going and all of this. And after a few stories back and forth, she leans over and takes one of the scrapbooks from the desk where we’ve piled them. And she starts leafing through them and one at a time I get up first, and Kerry gets up follows me. We go around the desk on opposite sides are both over each of her shoulders sort of narrating each page as she flips through it trying to tell her an anecdote and you know, sometimes she wouldn’t wait for it to be finished and she turned the page and we’d have to fast forward to the next little comment or something. About 35 minutes later, she says to us, okay, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to send an auditor down. That’s what they call their on site, people that would go and review your theater. And I’m going to send an auditor down and we’ll see what will happen. So next thing we know when the round of funding came around that we were eligible for, we got a fairly sizable grant. It was like $10,000, which was more than we were getting from the state at the time. And by the second year funding from the National Endowment, we were the highest funded theater in the southeast United States. And people were taking notice of us, we became kind of the darling of the Southern theaters.

Lauren Cox 13:19
Okay, I know I have to back up a bit. The Hippodrome wasn’t always a darling of the Southern theaters. It had humble beginnings out on Hawthorne road when a group of UF students wanted to create a new kind of theater in Gainesville. The town had the theater associated with us, and also the Gainesville Little Theatre, which later on became the Gainesville Community Playhouse. But these students wanted something that was more experimental, riskier. Greg graduated in 1972. And he was all set to go to grad school in California for theater. But he found himself feeling dissatisfied at the thought of graduate school.

Gregory von Hausch 13:55
God if I could just start my own theater. That would be such a boost for my enthusiasm for going into theater. And I thought about where I could do that. And I was really in love with Gainesville. So I said, gee, you know, Gainesville’s got a community theater, and then they’ve got the educational theater. Both of those I found lacking in inventiveness and creativity and trying new things. I thought, well, there’s a real market here because Gainesville is such a educated community. There’s a real market here for something like a theater.

Lauren Cox 14:35
The Hippodrome started putting on avant garde and absurdist shows like Exit the King and The Serpent. While the Florida players, the UF theatre group, we’re doing shows like Guys and Dolls. So Greg pitched the idea to Mary, Kerry, and Orin, other UF undergrads, but before they could start the theater, they needed money. Mary and Greg, they were a couple at the time. They took jobs in Miami to raise the funds.

Gregory von Hausch 15:03
And I had a variety of jobs. I taught workshops to old people on Miami Beach. I was a dinner theater actor at night touring all the condos with really crappy shows. I also pumped gas. I was an electrician. I delivered meat for Black Angus, and I was a vegetarian at the time, in a big van that had a huge cow on top of it, and a horn that went moo.

Lauren Cox 15:34
They saved up money for a year and went down to Gainesville every weekend in an old hippie van looking for space for the theater. During this time, they began to realize they needed reinforcements. They’d been talking with Bruce Cornwell, who was a theater graduate student at UF. He’d come out on the weekends and help them build sets and things. He was still committed to his graduate work. So for a while, it was just the four of them. Greg, Mary, Kerry and Orin, then Marilynn Wall came to town and joined up. They did the Odd Couple.

Gregory von Hausch 16:07
Orin had done the set for it. And Orin’s concept of the set was built of black visqueen walls. It was so, I mean, the first Hippodrome was so dark to begin with. And we had this black set for this comedy. It was just atrocious. So I pleaded with Bruce, who is the better carpenter of all of us. And he helped. He came out and we built actual flats and put them up before the show opened. So we had to real set. And about that time, Bruce, I think was becoming less and less enamored with his managers and more and more enchanted with the idea of joining our company, and eventually segued into being an official co founder. So it was Kerry and Orin, Mary and I, and Bruce and Marilyn.

Lauren Cox 17:04
The Hippodrome started to become known in the community. They didn’t have any money for advertising though. They put up posters all around town, they’d walk around in costumes, trying to get people to come to their shows. But with hardly any money, everything had to be discussed.

Gregory von Hausch 17:19
Everything was a challenge back then, we were going to buy a gallon of paint, we almost had to have all you know, five of the six of us vote on it. It was that challenging. We didn’t make any money. We couldn’t pay ourselves any thing. At the time, we couldn’t afford food stamps, because they would give you food stamps, where you’d have to buy them, you know, like if they give you $100 worth of food stamps, you’d have to give him like $20 or something. And we didn’t have that kind of money. It was very, very stressful and at the same time, extremely exciting.

Lauren Cox 17:51
But things began to change between Orin and the other members.

Gregory von Hausch 17:57
By the second show, the second official show which was Exit the King, Orin directed we had become a little divisive with poor Orin be on the outs. He wasn’t quite meshing with everybody. And he and Kerry were becoming stressed as a couple. So Orin after Exit the King made his exit, and it became just the five of us.

Lauren Cox 18:26
Outside his work with the Hipp, Orin directed Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in Florida state prisons under a humanities grant. After he left the Hippodrome, he went on to NYU film school, and in 1988, his first film Starlight won Best Feature at the International Children’s Film Festival, and was later picked up by Disney. He then went on to work at an advertising agency. He passed away in 2019, before the recording of this podcast. So in 1975, the Hippodrome moved from Hawthorne road to warehouse out on 441.

Gregory von Hausch 19:06
The second Hippodrome, which by the way was my favorite of the three spaces we had, because it was so big, and we could change it and do whatever we wanted with it. We did things in the round, we moved the audience and platforms almost every time. For one season, we kept everything in the arena, and we had four sections that were like in squares facing. It’s almost like a football field that would be in the round with flat bleachers on each side. And we named each section after one of the Marx Brothers, so that was kind of funny. We did so many plays there. I have such fond memories of both of those locations.

Lauren Cox 19:50
And while the second Hippodrome certainly had its advantages, it had a few drawbacks, too.

Gregory von Hausch 19:55
But every time it rained, it was a tin roof if we would have to take forced intermissions because the audience couldn’t hear, it’s like you’re inside a snare drum. And so we would open up the bar, we’d have another intermission until the rain went by. And upon occasion when the rain didn’t, we’d have to have people come back in the night to see the culmination of the play. We also had these big skylights, which were like translucent panels up on the thing. So in the summer, when you know, you could do matinees or in summer, when the sun went down later, it would be bright.

Lauren Cox 20:36
Along with budget constraints in furnishing the theater, the founders could also hardly pay themselves.

Gregory von Hausch 20:42
We didn’t have the lighting, but we found that a three pound can of coffee was big enough to fit a par light, parabolic aluminized reflector bulb. We made all of our own stage lighting out of these three pound coffee cans. We actually went door to door in the neighborhood around the theater, asking people if they had three pound coffee cans to save up for us. Well, I don’t know if you’re a coffee drinker, but most people don’t buy the coffee in three pound cans. They buy one pound cands. So that was a kind of a limited return thing. But we finally got enough to make and we made our dimming board out of dimmers that we bought at Sears. We put them in like a cigar box with a dimmer thing sticking through it and to dim all the lights at one time we put rubber bands around the dimmers so that they were turned in unison. We found out the University of Florida’s Chemistry Department was thowing out all of their lab tables. They were big, immensely heavy sheets of wood, not like plywood, but like lumber, that would take four of us straining to lift one of them, you know. So we went there, and they were exactly what we needed, because they were like 12 feet long. And we could put two of them over each set of panels, and we had eight panels, total four on each side. That meant we had to bring up 16 of these things to the top of the Hippodrome and carry them on a slanted roof and put them on top of there. So that was the things that we would do. You know, we had no money to buy lights or to buy seats. So I had all this naugahyde that I saved up over my theater career at the University of Florida. They had these big high beams they made that were once again were like 24 foot long. During strike when the show concluded, they pitched them out in the dumpster. We went there in my little hippie van and with a skill saw, we cut them in half, so they’re 12 feet long, so they would fit and we took them back and we made them into benches, covered them with naugahyde. We got carpet scraps thrown out by a carpet store out of their dumpster and padded them. And we made our seats out of those. So it was that type of Mickey and Judy, hey, let’s do a show type of thing that we did back when we had nothing.

Lauren Cox 23:35
And money was tight in the beginning for the founders.

Gregory von Hausch 23:39
We were making $35 to $40 a week. Of course that wasn’t guaranteed. We were probably making more money at our theater workshops where we were charging people to teach their kids but we would also go and pick up the kids and provide them lunch. You know, we thought we had to do whatever we had to do to make the theater work.

Lauren Cox 24:20
And it did start working. People had taken notice of them. Two of the earliest and most important supporters of the theater were Dick and Caren Gorenberg.

Gregory von Hausch 24:31
We would never have existed beyond Hawthorne road if it hadn’t been for Dick and Caren Gorenberg. They came to that very first play the Odd Couple. We didn’t know them. It was after the show. It was a rainy, rainy night, and I was out in the driveway. At this vacant lot that we use next to us the park cars in that vacant lot was This huge sinkhole right near the entrance, I mean big enough to swallow a car. So after every show, and before every show, I ran out there and guided people with flashlights to make sure I didn’t back into that hole, and especially this night because it was this torrential downpour. So I was out there and I see the corners. I don’t know who they are. I said, Hi, I’m Greg from the theater. Are you parked in our lot? Yes, we are. I said, why don’t you give me your keys, and I’ll bring the car up to you. And then they gave me their keys and I brought the car right up to them at the thing. Instead of getting in the car, they stay there. Outside, it’s still raining, we’re under this little overhang of the theater. They begin to ask me questions about the theatre company and everything like that. And I tell them, tell them what our dreams were and all this stuff. And they’re listening really well. I mean, that it’s not like it’s for granted, or just some gratuitous thing. They’re listening, and they’re chiming in occasionally, and he asked me about our board of directors. I said oh, we don’t really have one, blah, blah, blah. Caren asked me about who does the books and finances. I well, we really don’t have any finances to do books about you know. We have a checking account. We pay bills. She’s been very nice, but I can see she’s a little horrified about our, how naive we were and how primitive. They invite us to their house, the six of us go over there and meet with them. And this friendship and this bond happens. Their best friends are Ed and Carol Johnson and Ed Johnson is the executive editor of the Gainesville Sun, because Ed was the editor, we got a lot of coverage. You know, not everything was always glowing about us. We got panned when we deserve to be panned. We got panned when we didn’t deserve to be panned. And we got praised. And we got praised when we didn’t deserve as much praise too. So that was really good in those formative years. It becomes like, you know, the six of us and the four of them. And we’re always, they’re always having us over for dinner because they know we don’t have any money. We don’t have anything to eat at our places. And they’re taking care of us and Caren starts doing our books. Dick says, you know, we need to form a board of directors and he becomes our first chairman. Dick became the doctor for the Hippodrome. And when somebody and he was a gynecologist, when somebody didn’t need to go to a gynecologist, they need somebody else, he would find another doctor to do some pro bono, whether it was eyes or general, this or whatever it could be. And when actors were hurt, he took care of us. We start taking baby steps, but they’re the ones that are holding our hands and leading us.

Lauren Cox 27:55
So they kept taking baby steps. And the Hippodrome stayed in the warehouse on 441 for the rest of the 1970s. And let me tell you, a lot happened in that warehouse. Even Tennessee Williams came to that warehouse. And those stories are for other episodes.

Gregory von Hausch 28:12
We had, we had, even though people were liking us, we had a reputation of being, at times to daring, a little bit too much nudity. Little too many off-color plays with language, or political in nature or just too avant-garde

Lauren Cox 28:34
But by the late 1970s, the founders knew they couldn’t stay in the warehouse forever. Around this time an effort had begun to restore downtown Gainesville, led by Ken and Linda McGurn, business people in town. The McGurns had been Hippodrome patrons for a while. They approached the founders and asked if they’d be interested in moving the theater downtown. The McGurns recognize that an artistic element was a necessary component for revitalizing the area. It needed a draw, and a theater would bring people out to shows and into restaurants and shops. At first, the Hipp thought about taking over the old Gainesville Sun building. But that didn’t work out. Then they were asked about moving into the old post office building. This building was built in 1911 in the Beaux Arts style, and it’s one of the icons of the city. If there’s something that represents Gainesville that’s not a gator, it’s this place. There was a plan for the Hippodrome to share it with the Little Theater, which proved to be too complicated. They decided to go ahead and take over the space themselves. But there was a major issue money. So then it was back to the NEA. They wrote an NEA challenge grant. For this kind of grant, the NEA would give them money $175,000 but they had to match it four to one. In other words, a lot of money. The founders started doing all kinds of things to raise this money. They had fun runs a recycling drive, a telethon and a lot of other things. But at the end of the day, they’d barely made a dent in that $700,000

Gregory von Hausch 30:00
We had gone through about, oh, 11 months of fundraising, and we had probably under $6,000. And it just looked like we were nowhere near gonna make what we had to make the amount of time we had. So, Dick Gorenberg, who was our chairman of the board, and his wife, Caren, who did our books came up, I think they came up with the idea of holding a cocktail party at the warehouse, where we had diagrams and big blow- ups of what we wanted to do in the post office, and architectural designs somewhat like that. And we invited about 35-45 business leaders to come for this thing. It wasn’t it open to the public. It was by invitation only. And so they came out and, you know, had wine and hors d’oeuvres, and everybody, you know, was looking happy, but nobody had pulled out their checkbook and everything like that. So we start our… The appointed hour comes, where we asked them to take a seat now. And the seats we had were on those platforms I talked about. We hadgraduated away from the benches that we built in the first theater, and now had these church pews that some church had thrown out, and we went rescued, and they made much more comfortable seats, and then our homemade benches. And so we had these church benches up each of the things. And in this big theater that we had that could see around 275 to 300 people, depending on what show. We had about, you know, at the most 40 people sitting up there, so it looked empty. It was a little gloomy. There were no stage lights up, we had some general lighting. And we all just thought that was gonna be terrible. So Dicl starts speaking to the crowd, now they’re in the seats. And he, you know, launches into a spiel, and he’s going to introduce me, but before he can introduce me some guy from the audience yells out, well, I’ll give you $50,000 if I don’t have to sit in these goddamn seats again. And it was Bob Hester, the president of First Federal of Mid Florida, who is a friend of Dick Gorenberg’s, Dick and Caren’s. In fact, most of the people, there were friends of Dick and Caren’s. Dick stops this thing and says, excuse me, Bob, did you say you’d give us $50,000? Just making sure it wasn’t a you know, just the in jest type of comment says, That’s right. I’ll give you $50,000, but I want new seats in that theater. Well, you know, the, the night became euphoric after that. And he lived up to his pledge, we got the $50,000. And just as important as the $50,000, all of a sudden, other people of the same social standing as Bob, doctors and lawyers, professional people and businesses, small and large and corporations. All of a sudden, started funding our efforts. We started doing less events and more direct appeal to people and telling them what they’ll get for their money, this plaque in the theater, this type of stuff, and we slowly raised the money now, whether or not we had all of that 700,000 in cash when we started, I bet dollars to donuts we didn’t. But our books reflected that we brought in that amount and the National Endowment accepted that and we were go.

Ryan George 34:29
The new theater opened its doors in early 1980. And in 1981, the Hippodrome was designated a State Theatre of Florida, staging mainstage productions for more than 60,000 people annually. Throughout its history, the theater has produced more than 100 world, American, and South Eastern premieres. Acclaimed playwrights such as Tennessee Williams, Eric Bentley, Paula Vogel, Lee Brewer, Adrian Mitchell and Mario Vargas Llosa have developed new works on the Hippodrome stage. It added a cinema which screens first-run foreign, limited release and avant garde films. The Hipp’s mission is to provide a first class regional theater and artistic space committed to excellence in North Florida, to collaborate with extraordinary artists creating productions, education programs, events, and cinematic programming that reflect and elevate the diverse cultures and perspectives of the region and to create and maintain ongoing engagement with the community.

Gregory von Hausch 35:26
There was a great spirit of camaraderie and excitement and accomplishment. So it was it was a great time. I’ve said many times in my years at the Hippodrome are the best years of my life. The most stressful the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life, but the most rewarding.

Ryan George 35:53
After Greg left the Hippodrome, he went on to become the Director and CEO of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, where he still works today. Throughout this series, we’ll hear the stories of the Hippodrome founders and the other members of the Hipp community. We’ll explore themes ranging from activism, community, creativity and care. We’ll bring you behind the scenes stories from the Hipp. And we’ll tell you about the time Tennessee Williams came to Gainesville. Finally, we’ll also look to the future of the Hippodrome and imagine what it could be in its next 50 years. Funding for this podcast was provided by a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additionally, support from the Hippodrome and the University of Florida Center for the Humanities and the public sphere. It is hosted by Ryan George. It was produced by Gabrielle Byam, Lauren Burrell Cox and Amanda Fraser. It was written and edited by Lauren Burrell Cox. Joshua Osborne and Dee Natour design the cover art. Special thanks to the Hippodrome founders whose voices made this project possible.

Thank you for supporting the arts!