When I first arrived in Washington, D.C. many years ago as fresh-faced lad freshly graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, one of the first places I was able to feed myself was at Arena Stage reading scripts at $10 a pop for Lloyd Rose and Jerry Manning. Arena Stage is one of the best professional regional theatres in the world — they were one of the first theatres to employ an acting core on a full time basis — and Zelda Fichandler created Arena Stage out of nothing and ran it for 40 years from 1950 to 1990 until she moved to New York University in 1987 to run the graduate school acting program.
I met Romanian director and actor Liviu Ciulei while I was a graduate student at Columbia University. He was teaching directing and Shakespeare and the first thing I learned from him was how to correctly spell his name. That spelling talent came in handy because when others in the department needed to write Liviu a note, they sought me out for help in composing his name. Liviu is more fragile today at age 87, but the strength of the name, and his talent, remains within me.