New Independent Five And Dime Theatre Company Forms

August 17, 2011 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A group of artists and friends came together with a common goal: to make a change in the Jacksonville cultural arts community. From this, The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company was born. Founded with the hope of facilitating diverse opportunities and a supportive environment for collaboration, board president Staci Cobb explains of the organization, "The 5 & Dime is a group of passionate theatre artists who've come together in the urban core to develop a place where all kinds of art happens." Join as we introduce one of the more exciting groups of people to join the urban arts environment in years.

photo credit: MAYA ADKINS

Founding members and current board of directors include: Caryl Butterley, Staci Cobb, Evan Gould, Judy Gould, Lee Hamby, Craig Leavitt, Joshua Taylor, Zeina Salame, and Josh Waller. Their broad backgrounds and experiences each contribute to a unique perspective on the possibilities of the arts in this community.

Cobb continues, “We understand the value of risk-taking and transparency, and we recognize that our passion for storytelling, collaboration and openness is a tale best told in actions. We have a vision for our place in the heart of the Jacksonville community . . . fulfilled in relationship with our neighbors and fellow artists.”

In that spirit of collaboration, The 5 & Dime, in partnership with The Jacksonville Public Library is pleased to present a stage adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451 to kick off Banned Books Week.

Director Caryl Butterley has assembled an all star cast and production team including Jacksonville theatre veterans and newcomers alike – a trend with which the The 5 & Dime’rs hope to continue.

The 5 & Dime will soon be announcing a holiday project, future collaborations with other community organizations, as well as a full season to begin in the New Year. The founding members and board of directors offer an invitation to all Jacksonville artists to join in the mission to stimulate this city’s potential for the rich culture local audiences and art lovers have been craving and deserve. They say, “It started with a simple question, ‘Why not us?’ And so we offer this: why not YOU?” Find out how you can be a part of making change at

Jacksonville’s newest member of the arts community, The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company, presents its debut project, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, as a collaboration with the Jacksonville Public Library on September 24th at 2:00pm, at the main library’s Hicks Auditorium, 303 North Laura Street. Free tickets may be reserved at

The Board

(Founder & Board Historian) was an artsy nerd from an early age, but her formative years spent in Iowa did not allow much opportunity to see live theatre. Through a series of fortuitous events, the summer before her senior year of high school, she saw her first professional theatrical production. It was Taming of the Shrew… in New York City… starring a still relatively unknown actress by the name of Meryl Streep. A religious experience ensued. Was it the thrill of seeing such an astonishing performance? The fascination of being transfixed by words that had been written over 400 years earlier? Or was it simply the magic of sitting in Central Park on a cool summer night, laughing and laughing? Who can say. But it has lead to a lifelong devotion to the craft of theatre and an admiration for all those who quietly step onto a stage and say “I have a story to tell”.

(Founder & Board President) is a story teller from way back. Just ask her parents/ grandparents. At the tender age of 5, she used to regale (horrify) them with stories of her “real” parents and grandparents whose opulent houses were filled with only the best toys and girly-wear. A place where she never had to go outside and “pick a switch.” A place with an endless supply of chocolate chip ice cream. Her fascination with story telling has seen many incarnations over the last few decades: actress, dancer, back-up singer, director, producer, teacher, spin doctor and grant writer. Armed with this mish-mash of skills and a rampant imagination (or utter moxie) she was compelled to join forces with other like-minded story tellers: her fellow 5 & Dimers. We’re telling some sweet tales, Jacksonville. About you, for you, because of you.

EVAN GOULD (Founder & Board Vice President). Looking back, maybe Evan’s first attempt at creating was a bit plagiaristic, but he was proud of his accomplishment, nonetheless. He had been fervently writing his masterpiece all year long, and when this 8 year old gave the finished product to his 3rd grade teacher, he insisted that she read the entire 65 page manuscript right then and there. It was his book about a spider named Charlotte and the web she spun each night to save the life of a pig named Wilbur. If his teacher had ever heard the story before, she didn’t let on. That afternoon, his book was read aloud to the entire class with no mention of E.B. White. His strong belief that we are all programmed to be storytellers has kept Evan busy pushing for arts education in the schools. He knows that we all use the arts to help make sense of the world around us. To be able to tell a story to an audience is a cherished gift, but to help others tell a story is… T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C.

JUDY GOULD (Founder & Board Member). A box full of Fisher Price little people, a head full of Donny and Marie’s corny skits, and two little sisters. That’s where it all started for Judy. Playwright, producer, director, scenic designer, costumer, and performer – she did it all. Eventually she and her less-willing siblings graduated to performing live, the warm-up act to Dad’s endless narrated slideshow on the Kodak Carousel. To entertain, to capture an audience (usually Mom and Grandma), to bring them a smile or a laugh, that was the first motivation. But with maturity and the loss of innocence Judy has come to recognize the arts as more than a passing diversion; they are the perfect medium for inspiring the change we want to see. Captivate your audience, take them somewhere, tell them a story, and then give them something to think about. From the Little People to The 5 & Dime, it was a natural progression.

(Founder & Board Member)‘s ability to envision potential in the non-traditional is a quality for which he is now well known, however, those who knew him as a child saw it early: turning his trampoline into a stage, his driveway into a fashion runway, a cardboard box into a puppet theatre and, and to his mother’s dismay – his roof into a launch pad for Mary Poppins. She likely found him outside while on the hunt for her aluminum foil – which they were always out of – because little Lee had used it up to transform himself into Wonder Woman. The baby to two much older brothers, Lee determinately conjured creative entertainment for anyone who would sit, listen, and watch; and so he found his audience. His flare for the dramatic lead to a career as a performer, director, and designer that fits him better than those tin foil arm bands ever could.

CRAIG LEAVITT (Founder & Board Member). Ӆand a partridge in a pear tree.” The moment Craig made his debut as a soloist in his elementary school’s singing Christmas tree, he knew he liked to perform. Then he got the lead in his church’s Christmas pageant for three consecutive years. It’s no wonder that he sees every opportunity to perform as “just like Christmas!” Over the years Craig has honed his gift for storytelling. Whether it be on stage or in mere conversation, each successive delivery of a story has been tweaked to make it more vivid and carefully timed to maximize the suspense or laughter of his audience. Being “on stage” every day in his high school classroom gives him an opportunity to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to experience the performing arts. Craig has aligned with The 5 & Dime to assist in bringing great stories to one of the many underserved demographic groups in Jacksonville and it feels “just like Christmas!”

ZEINA SALAME (Founder & Board Member)‘s serendipitous stumble into theatre artistry resulted from what seemed like bad timing – the pottery class elective for which she had attempted to register was full. An over involved high school guidance counselor suggested, “Why don’t you try drama?“ Zeina later discovered she was part of a legacy – from a line of actors, playwrights, and dancers whose dreams deferred provided for growing families. That fleeting moment in that tiny office – now so poignant a memory – that choice lead to a journey began with safety pins and scrubbing floors (her first two jobs were as a costume bustle fluffer and prop blood mopper), and has evolved to include performance, design, directing, and education. Perhaps more importantly, it offered an opportunity to honor the sacrifices of her supremely talented art ancestors… no matter the stakes, refusing to settle for less than imagination allows.

JOSHUA TAYLOR (Founder & Board Member). You may have seen Joshua in his kindergarten production of “The Fuzzy Little Caterpillar”. He was the first caterpillar from the left, a much lauded performance that led to wormy roles throughout his high school and college years. Between his stumbles across the boards, he took ample time to immerse himself in all things theatre, and in all things Jacksonville. And he found two desperately underserved communities. Hopes dashed, he fled his home, first for Atlanta, then Chicago. But his heart was always wrapped around the First Coast. Fortune finally flung him back south (as fortune is accustomed to do) and he rediscovered his hometown: still sleeping, but beginning to stir. As he watched aspects of the city flourish and thrive, he realized that the opportunity to reintegrate storytelling with the community it had once served was becoming possible. He crept back onto the boards, met his fellow Dimers, and instantly, it all made sense. The story was always there… it just lacked a narrator.  Welcome to our narration.

(Founder & Board Secretary) strategically hid rear classroom during rehearsals for the first play in which he ever appeared, as a fringe Jet in West Side Story. To his utter surprise, this timid band geek who had spent the last ten years training as a classical pianist, bassoonist, and marching clarinetist – well, he could sing. This timely and fortunate discovery for his teacher and cast mates prompted a next day casting change (their original “Tony” was moving to California). Thus, Josh made his stage debut as this bold and iconic leading man. Though mortified, love was born. This happy accident introduction to performance and that decision to join drama his senior year – rationale: “I don’t think they actually do anything in class. Count me in!” – lead him to NYC, extensive European travels, and a passion to bring that diversity and culture back home. Enter Stage Left: The 5 & Dime.