David Caudle (BFA Theatre Design 1990) is a Miami native currently residing in New York City best known for his play The Sunken Living Room, theatre designer and scenic artist. Along with his time at Florida State University’s School of Theatre, Caudle studied at Middlebury College and the University of Connecticut as well.
As a playwright, he is an alumnus of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages where he developed several plays including: Downward Facing Debbie, Likeness, Leg Man, South Beach Rapture, Damsel and The Common Swallow. His play Visiting Hours was named Best New Play of 2012 by the Times-Picayune for its premiere production by Rising Shiners theater company in New Orleans, followed by an acclaimed production at Miami’s New Theatre. David’s one-act Feet of Clay was a winner of the 29th Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival.
He has also demonstrated his abilities as a scenic painter with work appearing on film, TV and on Broadway stages – from Hulu’s The Path to Madonna’s video, Nothing Really Matters, to the distressed peasants on the Coast of Utopia.
Downward Facing Debbie and Visiting Hours, both published by Stage Right, are now available in paperback acting edition on Amazon. The Drama Book Shop in New York City is hosting a reading/signing of these two plays on June 22 at 5:30 PM.
At FSU School of Theatre, I was surrounded by such a talented, dedicated group of artists, technicians and faculty, who taught me the beauty of collaboration. My BFA was in Set Design, which has definitely informed my writing. I think of the setting as basically a character, with its own history and agenda, rather than just a location for the action to take place. Incorporating added layers of emotional impact – sometimes creating logistical obstacles – can present challenges in the writing, but can pay off with rich layers of meaning.
Probably my most treasured memory at FSU is when I was cast to play Alan in a scene from EQUUS for a directing workshop led by visiting artist, the great director Jose Quintero.
My partner and I performed the scene, and then Mr. Quintero worked one-on-one with me. I recall how hypnotic his words were, and how he was taking me to another place, and after we performed it a second time, I was told by a few people that jaws dropped in the room. I take no credit – it was all Mr. Quintero – but I was so grateful to be part of something magical.
I’d always been interested in writing, but probably that experience – acting with Mr. Quintero – and the study of costume design worked on me because of the exploration into character that both acting and costume design require. I found that the inner world of the drama – the characters’ histories and motivations – fascinated me more than the outer world. Also, as an audience member, I knew how moved I could be, not necessarily by the obvious theme or plot of a play, but by some moment onstage that felt true. In art and in life, those moments are elusive, but we’ve all felt them. I wanted to share my true moments as other playwrights had shared theirs.
Oh, wow, so many, and still do. With Aaron Gandy (BM Music Theatre 1993) I’m developing an exciting play with music about Kay Swift, Broadway’s first female composer of a hit show, who wrote the 1930 smash FINE AND DANDY with her lyricist husband Paul James. We’re using all the Swift/James music, including old standards “Fine and Dandy” and “Can’t We Be Friends”, it’s all just wonderful. Swift was a brilliant composer who deserves to be remembered.
The awesome Eileen Suarez (BA Theatre 1995) was managing director of Miami’s New Theatre, which premiered four of my plays, but is sadly now closed. Juan C. Sanchez, a terrific playwright himself, was always so supportive while I was there. The one and only Zach James produced my electronica opera ONE HOT KITCHEN with his Metropolis Opera Project. Jessica Comas (MFA Theatre Management 2004) was a bright presence at Primary Stages while I was developing plays in their Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group. I have remained dear friends with fellow designers Shannon Robert (MFA Theatre 1992), Neno Russell (MFA Theatre 1994), Bado Brown (MFA Theatre 1992). Our ongoing interactions– and their influence in the theater world– go far beyond the realm of design.
Awesome playwright Bixby Elliot (BA Theatre 2003) and I recently performed together in a show at Project Y. Bixby was in a play of mine way back when, and is involved with Nicole Golden (BFA Acting 1993) in an annual festival called Cherry Picking NYC, which just selected my new one-act for this year’s offering, in August 2017. So many actors that are good friends as well as collaborators; there are so many more folks I should be naming. They’re everywhere!
View Caudle’s plays online and stay up to date on his latest news at davidcaudle.org.