“You’re going to be a theatre major? You can’t make a living with that!”
This has been the concern of no small number of parents, and this is the sentiment that Lloyd Caldwell is determined to change.
“I’m passionate about arts entrepreneurship,” Caldwell stated. “I want to give my students the best possible shot at having a life in the arts, and that includes being a savvy businessperson.”
Along with being a Riata Fellow in the Spears School of Business, Caldwell is a member of the Oklahoma State University theatre faculty. He has directed several productions, most recently Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” in fall 2017.
Caldwell’s impressive 30-year career as an actor includes appearances in off-Broadway and regional productions and in feature films and television. His credits include roles at the American Place Theatre, The Roundabout Theatre, La Mama Theatre Company and a national tour as John Adams in “1776.” His acting film credits include “The Group,” “Dropped Frames,” “Resistance” and “A Great Day.”
“Theatre is a business, just like any other,” he said. “Get into the artistic community and meet as many people as possible; that’s how the business works. When I became an actor, I had an aspiration to make a living at acting, supporting my family, and I managed to do that. But then I discovered fight directing, and I devoted myself to it. I had great mentors, I had people who took care of me, and I owe everything to them.”
Since 1986, Caldwell has choreographed stage combat for over 100 professional productions and 120 university productions in both the U.S. and abroad. As well as teaching Stage Combat at OSU, he has worked with such companies as the Berlin Comic Opera, the Royal Norwegian Opera and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to name only a few. But it hasn’t always been glamorous or easy.
“I was on a shoot for 'Spenser: For Hire,' and I was a cop who was going to get shot and fall into the East River,” he recalled. “The shoot started at 5 A.M., I went into the East River, and they didn’t get the take. So I did it again. I went into the East River 18 times, in February.”
But those challenges in his career have given him the experiences necessary to teach.
“There are fight directors out there who are not actors, and it shows,” he explained. “Modern actors are going to have to do action sequences, whether it’s a play, or television, or film, and they’ll have someone come in to give them the basic skills.”
It is those skills he has passed onto his students.
“When they leave my class, I want them to be able to perform a dramatic scene that involves physical conflict,” Caldwell said. “But first and foremost, they must act the scene. Teaching action sequences is the skill I want to impart to them.”
Lloyd is one of the founders of the International Order of the Sword and Pen, for which he served a five-year appointment as the executive director. Through his company, Bladework, he has provided a wide variety of services to clients such as Universal Studios, Kings Productions, NBC, CBS, the BBC and RTE. In addition, Lloyd has also choreographed for Junior Players and consulted for Shakespeare Dallas.
What is it that attracts Lloyd Caldwell to OSU?
“I love my students,” he answers with a smile. “We get some salt-of-the-earth, really quality students here. OSU is authentic Cowboy Country: when you go to Walmart early in the morning, and you see boots and hats and spurs, it’s not a costume. I like living in a place that’s different, with warm, authentic people.”