Richard Caliban

Richard Caliban, The Playwrights Group
Richard Caliban

Richard Caliban has worked as a director and playwright across the country and internationally.  He was Artistic Director of critically acclaimed, award-winning Cucaracha Theatre where he wrote and directed many of his plays, including Homo Sapien Shuffle at the Public Theatre; Performance Piece #27 (also at the Vineyard Theatre and the Ilkhom Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan); Famine Plays (also at the Yale Cabaret, Triplex Theatre and Theatre of NOTE in L.A.); Rodents & Radios (Best Play List 1990–Mel Gussow, New York Times); Budd; and A Vast Wreck. Under Mr. Caliban’s directorship Cucaracha received an Obie for its achievements as an emerging company.

Richard Caliban's MoM - A Rock Concert Musical
MoM – A Rock Concert Musical at Geva Theatre Center

Caliban’s MoM – A Rock Concert Musical won “Outstanding Musical” at the New York International Fringe Festival, and subsequently played at Geva Theatre Center, the Actors’ Playhouse, the Foothills Performing Arts Center, The Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey (“Best Musical Comedy of the Year” —Daily Record), The Laurie Beechman Theatre at the Westbank Cafe, The Barrow Group Theatre, Theatre 80, and Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre. MoM was selected as one of the “15 Most Beloved Shows from the Fringe’s history” and will be featured in an upcoming documentary.

Caliban directed the Outer Critics Circle Award and Obie Award-winning production of Mac Wellman’s Crowbar at the Victory Theatre. He also directed Wellman’s The Sandalwood Box and Whirigig (in Hungarian) for the R.S. 9 Theatre in Budapest; as well as the premieres of the Obie Award winning Sincerity Forever at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Second Hand Smoke at Primary Stages.

Caliban has had the pleasure of working with renowned playwrights: Jules Feiffer (Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award) on the revival of his Tony nominated play Knock Knock at the Vineyard Playhouse; and with Michael Weller (Loose Ends, Moonchildren) on a new play ¡Help!, at the School House Theatre.

Richard Caliban's Famine Plays at Cucaracha Theatre
Famine Plays at Cucaracha Theatre

Other notable productions include Will Scheffer’s (Big Love, HBO) Easter with Naked Angels — as well as the film version (Best Feature Film – Dances with Films Festival, L.A.); Odets’ Clash By Night (Best Play List 1998 — Mel Gussow, New York Times); and Elizabeth Hess’ Birthrite, which played in New York, Toronto; Edinburgh, Bath, Kiel, Berlin and Barcelona.

Caliban’s work as a director and/or playwright has also been seen at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the R.S. 9 Theatre in Budapest; New York Stage & Film’s Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College; the Young Playwrights Festival at the Cherry Lane, Playwrights Horizons and The Public Theatre; the Edinburgh Fringe; The Ensemble Studio Theatre; The Bruno Walter Theatre, Lincoln Center; The Joyce Theatre; La Mama; and at Act One and the Back Alley Theatre in L.A. His theatrical cabarets Teatro Slovak and Les Funky Bitches Fantastique have performed at Galapagos Art Center, HERE Art Center and dozens of music venues and clubs throughout New York. His new musicals, Surf City and the Girl from Ipanema received workshop productions at the National Theatre Conservatory, Denver Center Theatre.

Richard Caliban's Budd at Cucaracha Theatre
Budd at Cucaracha Theatre

As Artistic Director of Cucaracha Theatre Caliban produced over seventy five productions, including co-productions with the Public Theater, the Classic Stage Company and the Vineyard Theatre.  The raucous late nite hits, Underground Soap and the Cucaracha Cabaret, ran for many years. Cucaracha supported the work of hundreds of artists including Blue Man Group, Jeff Buckley, Eric Bogosian, Paul Giamatti, Penny Arcade, Betty, Adrienne Shelly, Sonia Bragga, Ethyl Eichelberger, Holly Hughes, Pheobe Legere, Michael Mayer, Dael Orlandersmith, Anna-B Parson, Parker Posey, Joey Arias, Women of the Calabash, Paul Zaloom and even the heavy metal band Soundgarten.

Caliban’s play, Rodents & Radios is published by Sun & Moon Press in an anthology that spans thirty years of experimental theater — FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CENTURY II: A NEW AMERICAN DRAMA 1960-1995; and Gladiator is published by Smith and Kraus in  ACT ONE FESTIVAL ’95. His article: Towards A Radical Theatre was published by the Village Voice.

Caliban is a three time MacDowell Fellow and has been a Resident Artist at the RS9 Theatre in Budapest, Hungary; The Ilkhom Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan; HERE Art Center; and Galapagos Art Center. He was the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Grant and has been a New York State Council on the Arts Panelist for Playwriting.

Richard Caliban's Teatro Slovak at Galapagos Art Center
Teatro Slovak at Galapagos Art Center

In the academic world, Caliban has directed, taught and/or lectured at The National Theatre Conservatory, NYU, Columbia University, C.W. Post College, Hunter College, The City College of New York, Towson University, The Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and The Director’s Guild.

He received his education at Bard College, the Yale School of Drama and the New York Film Academy.