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Exit Stage Left

After 15 years with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Theatre Department Head and CBT Producing Artistic Director, Cal MacLean, announces his retirement effective August 1, 2021.

Calvin MacLeanMacLean joined the theatre department and CBT in 2006. Throughout his tenure, he directed several productions, most notably Amadeus, Sweeney Todd, and Candide with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, as well as such other memorable productions as The Crucible, The Life of Galileo, Our Country’s Good, and Kiss Me Kate.

MacLean created and implemented a program which brought professional playwrights to campus to develop new plays written specifically for MFA students in acting and design, two of which, he directed. The Open Hand by Rob Caisley and most recently, People Where They Are by Anthony Clarvoe, were hugely successful from both an artistic and commercial perspective.

“Cal has worked tirelessly and attentively to maintain a sound and solvent enterprise, keeping an eye on the bottom line as well as a vision and an aesthetic that satisfies and fulfills the dual-mission of the Theatre Program,” said Tom Cervone, managing director. “I have had the great privilege and pleasure of serving with and for Cal throughout the majority of his 15-year tenure. We have grown the staff, the budget, and the audience, and in spite of being temporarily paused due to the pandemic, Cal, has, in his own words, left the apartment much cleaner than when he arrived.”

MacLean led the department to become the eighth ranked MFA acting program in the country and has been instrumental in the drive to build a new Carousel Theatre.

“Community engagement has been a priority for Cal during his tenure; he has done an amazing job bringing a diverse group of people together to support the Clarence Brown Theatre,” said Margie Nichols, advisory board chair. “The increased enthusiasm we have seen for the CBT will be an important piece of Cal’s lasting legacy.”

Most recently, MacLean received the College Marshal award, which is the college equivalent of the Macebearer and the highest college honor award to a faculty member.

“In his 15 years as UT theatre department head and artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company, Cal’s innovative vision and dedication has led the department to being one of the top 10 theatre programs in the country,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Year after year, he has worked with our theatre faculty and MFA students, as well as professional actors, to develop seasons featuring old favorites and new programming that challenge our audiences to think about the changing world around them. His legacy includes a transformational gift from President Boyd in honor of his wife Jenny to build a new Carousel Theatre and set the stage for UT theatre in the Knoxville community for many more years to come. And, of course, the bathroom facilities in the Clarence Brown Theatre!”

The university will begin a search for his replacement in the coming year. In the interim, Professor and Associate Department Head Casey Sams will serve as department head and Professor and Co-Artistic Director Kate Buckley will serve as artistic director.