Go Behind the Scenes with Hipp Artistic Director, Lauren Warhol

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Juliana Davis Joe D

I am so excited to announce that we are welcoming the amazingly talented, Joe and Juliana Ditmyer to the Hippodrome Acting Company! This husband and wife duo are a true power couple and fill the Hipp with their energy and smiles every day during The Elephant Man. This is Joe’s first production on the Hipp stage and Juliana’s third Hipp production.

Being apart of the Hipp Acting Company means that they have a home at the Hipp. In the casting process, the artistic team begins with this core group of actors who have contributed to the artistic excellence of our storytelling. Please join us in welcoming Joe and Juliana!

Monday, April 11, 2016


On April 11, 1890, John Merrick known as the “elephant man” drew his last breath. What he left behind to all of us is immeasurable. A head so full of dreams and such sincere wonder in where these dreams go? We ask ourselves that same question today. He allowed us to know how it must feel to be “the other” with unbearable testament to the price paid for being different. He taught us forgiveness, wit in the midst of deformity, love and understanding and a tremendous belief in God while doubting God at the same time. Beyond the heavy head and cauliflower limbs, he was a man of dignity. Since beginning the research on Mr. Merrick for the sake of directing, I have not been able to stop reading or thinking of him. His giant soul and wonder of the world and his deepest depth of kindness has penetrated my mind and heart forever. Wherever he may be, I pray that is it is not in a London fog, but a place full of April flowers. Bryan Mercer who plays our “elephant man” has discovered all and more about this giant of a man. We see before us a transformation that brings Merrick back to us for a few hours a night to remember. It is a tour de force performance by Bryan….. but Bryan was not as concerned about the audience as he was in doing this man justice. Our dear Mr. Merrick looks down each night on Mr. Mercer with that sweet smile he managed to share. Thank you Bryan for letting us view the dignity of this man. Both of you shall not be forgotten in my lifetime.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

I do not have enough adventure in my life. I want to be in countries where English is not the first language. I want to fly in the air and see theatre that will inspire me to be better. I want to study more with companies who have a different process. I want my dogs to visit children in cancer wards. I want to leave the comfort of home and return with fuel for the future. I want to be dangerous and full of risk. I want to be a better family member. I am dying of thirst.

“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”
― Albert Einstein

Saturday, April 9, 2016


There they are. Amazing artists and the kindest peeps ever. Honored to even be in their presence. Our partners.

For the first time in the Hippodrome’s history, I am pleased to announce our first international collaboration with the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards. Over the past 30 years, the Workcenter has continued the research of the legendary theater director, Jerzy Grotowski. We are excited to collaborate with associate artistic director, Mario Biagini, members of the Open Program, and Hippodrome company member Michael Littig who is an associate artist, on a new project called the Open Choir. We received a grant from the NEA for a residency the fall. This residency will deepen our relationships in the city and will be a way to create meaningful encounters between individuals and groups across the city. Stay tuned!!!


Saturday, April 9, 2016


My kiss of ritual. Two for one!!!!!!! Mark Chambers and Joe Ditmyer. Notice the bookmark reactions. Juliana Davis Ditmyer is loving it and Niall McGinty is bored to tears. Cracks me up. Xoxox. Quite enjoyable.


Friday, April 8, 2016


Opening Night of THE ELEPHANT MAN. Thirty-five years later. A landmark evening for the Hipp.


Damn those beautiful butterflies for hanging out in my stomach.


Thursday, March 31, 2016


Today was press run through day. The Gainesville Sun sends a reporter to our run through, which is always the Thursday before opening week. Sometimes our press runs are the first time the actors have done a full run through of the show and we aren’t ready, but the show must go on! The press run through has no fancy lights or costumes, just actors doing what they do best. It’s usually a powerful day full of anxiety and techies running around.

Today, we had quite the audience. Several reporters were there, staff filled the seats and our spring oberservership class was scattered throughout.

The Gainesville Sun reporter, Tyler, has been to several run throughs and knows the drill, and knows how I work. I don’t remember the questions she asked me now, but I remember I asked her, ” Was he [John Merrick] ever really released from standing on the pedestal and asked to turn around?”

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

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Photo shoot day !!!!!! Help me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On Saturday, we had a run thru of THE ELEPHANT MAN. It was our first run after blocking, crafting and composing the show. And much talk and working many moments. All the designers and crew come together to watch to make sure we are all on the same page and determine a common goal for our continued journey. But we had a special guest. One of our most dedicated sponsors… Dr. Jennifer Bevis. She is a chiropractor and she and Colista Swartz own their own practice…BEVIS CHIROPRACTIC. The role of the elephant man requires much from Bryan Mercer… Demands of the role, demands I ask of him and the demands he asks of himself. Jennifer was there on a Saturday to view his performance to make sure that the choices he was making were healthy, able to maintain 8 shows per week, etc. Jennifer and Colista are beyond dedicated to the Hippodrome and they are genuinely concerned with the health of the artist. Need I say more in how honored we are at the Hippodrome to have such caring people who love us so. We love them too. Thank you, our dear friends and partners, who cherish the arts and go beyond the call of duty in giving back by taking care of our actors and others. –Bevis Chiropractic



About Lauren Warhol Caldwell

Lauren is the Artistic Director of the Hippodrome Theatre. She began her career at the theatre as an actress. She most recently appeared as Cassandra in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. She has also appeared on the Hippodrome stage in such productions as Other Desert Cities, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Steel Magnolias, Sugar Bean Sisters, Marvin’s Room, Always Patsy Cline, Absent Friends and eight years in A Tuna Christmas. She was the first woman in the country to be granted permission to appear in a professional production of A Tuna Christmas. Lauren’s mainstage directing credits (too numerous to list in their entirety) include The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Master Class, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Glass Menagerie, Alice in Wonderland, Eurydice, and Good People. In 2004, she adapted and directed the world premiere of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds on the Hippodrome Mainstage. Lauren has studied extensively with world-renowned director Anne Bogart, completing Viewpoints training, composition and also a six-week observership at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Before her position as Artistic Director, Lauren was Director of Education at the Hippodrome. During her tenure in this position, she worked with the HITT program, the Summer Spectacular program, and wrote and directed four original plays for the Theatre for Young Audiences program. These plays toured Alachua County as well as the State of Florida, serving thousands of public school students. Prior to her arrival in Gainesville, Lauren traveled extensively for Success Motivation Institute (an international communications company), lived a season in Graz, Austria with the American Institute of Musical Studies, and toured with Liza Minnelli. At the University of Florida’s School of Theatre and Dance, she has taught adjunct, conducted master classes and served as adjudicator for the school’s mainstage plays. Lauren is the founder and owner of Legal Acts, a company that provides training for courtroom attorneys. She has been affiliated with the University of Florida College of Law for over twenty years. Lauren has been recognized as Artist of the Year in The Gainesville Sun and was a keynote speaker for the Florida Humanities Council. Lauren was nominated for a Spirit of Gainesville Award by Gainesville Magazine and named one of Gainesville’s Twenty Most Interesting People by INsite Magazine. . Lauren is currently in collabaration with international company The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski, a year long project provided by a NEA grant. She is a native Texan. Lauren holds a BFA in directing from Baylor University and an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida.