“Our only goal is to provide you with high-quality professional productions–a caliber of theatre that is seldom found outside major cities.”
Raymond Caldwell will step down August 31 (his seventy-eighth birthday) after thirty-five years of leading the Texas Shakespeare Festival as founder and artistic director.
With the spread of COVID-19 preventing an in-person gathering (and forcing cancellation of the summer season) to bid farewell, TSF has launched a virtual event called “Celebrating Raymond” on its website, offering those who have worked with Caldwell or otherwise been touched by his work with TSF to leave messages of farewell and remembrances.
Billing itself as “East Texas’ only professional theatre,” TSF showcases both local talent and professional actors, designers, and directors from across the country.
The festival launched in June 1986 as Kilgore College’s contribution to the Texas Sesquicentennial celebration with performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Daisy Bradford 3 by Gifford Wingate. Since then, it has produced more than twenty-eight of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as other classic works, such as The Glass Menagerie, Cyrano de Bergerac, Harvey, Blithe Spirit, 1776, Man of La Mancha, Camelot, and Into the Woods.
TSF has also expanded into children’s theatre productions. Housed on the Kilgore College Campus in the Van Cliburn Auditorium, it also has maintained a strong educational focus, offering a variety of programs to serve students and teachers throughout the state.
Caldwell worked for Kilgore College for forty-two years, serving as the chairman of the Theatre Department for twenty-five years and as director of the Fine Arts Division for seven years. In 1992 and 1995, he was the Kilgore College nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Outstanding Professor Award, and in 1995, he was the first recipient of the Hamilton F. and Kathryn G. Beeson teaching award.
Caldwell has directed more than one hundred productions, including The Miracle Worker in 2005, which was invited by the World Institute of Theatre and Film to perform at Peking University in Beijing, China. From 2008 to 2011 he served an international adjudicator for the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival held in Hong Kong.