Actors are an unusual bunch. Critics often say that the arts in general, and acting in particular, attract those who experience life in a different way, those who feel more comfortable in an unreal world than in the day to day routine of life. Ronald Reagan rarely received critical acclaim for his acting, and one might theorize that he was just too regular, too normal, too much a part of humanity to make that leap into the next level of artistic expression. But take the most recognized actors -- Olivier, Brando, DeNiro... you have individuals who struggle a bit to fit in with the rest of us.
Jefferson Craddock realized early-on that he was just too normal to be a real artist. "When I went to theater school at LSU, I saw that a person of moderate ways and opinions has a realistic, but not-so-creative approach to his art. But unlike several of the best actors I met in graduate school, I was practical enough to do both the hours on stage and the less enjoyable work of the academic that were necessary to finish the Master's degree in acting."
Why LSU? Jeff had graduated from high school in New Orleans and then from Louisiana College with a degree in history, the department that recognized him as their best graduate in 1975. He had family in Baton Rouge and knew that the LSU theater program was nationally recognized. "The Role of Harry Beaton in Lerner and Loewe's "Brigadoon", a Production Thesis in Acting" was Jefferson's most important graduate theater project down in Tigerland.
Most of Jeff Craddock's adult life has been spent not on the bayou, but in the desert. Immediately after college, Jeff spent a year in Washington DC on the staff of Congressman Gillis Long of the old eighth district of Louisiana. Jeff expressed to Long his interest in living and working oversea. Representative Long introduced Jeff to the folks at the Saudi National Petroleum Company, doing business as Aramco, the Arabian-American Oil Company. Thus began a highly rewarding career. Jeff was employed by Aramco as a classroom teacher, mostly following curricula developed in the United States. His students were from sixth grade through adult. Subjects taught were primarily American and World History, but also included Language Arts, science, and of course, theater. Although most of his students were not American, Jeff says, "If we look for a divine purpose to our individual lives, mine was to present America and Christianity, in necessarily subtle ways, to people who had never heard about those subjects but from a single point of view." Jeff wrote for various education journals and helped train teachers in international schools in Europe and Asia, and has taught Fine Arts Theater at ASU Heber Springs in recent semesters.
While in Saudi, Jeff Craddock directed over forty plays for the expatriate community and schools. That sounds like a lot, but if you live there for twenty-eight years it is not so much. Both his children were born there and lived in Saudi Arabia until high school. Son Spencer is a graduate of the Arkansas School for Math, Science and the Arts in Hot Springs, and daughter Katie is on the staff of Berkeley Repertoire Theatre in California.
Like so many residents of the Lake Area, Craddock heard of the great retirement life to be had in Heber Springs, Arkansas. He moved here in 2013 and got so excited about the place that within a month he had his second heart attack and its subsequent surgery. Jeff says his health care here has been excellent, from the surgeons at Baptist, to GP Dr. Lee Vaughn, to trainer Tammy Haile. When asked in 2015, he even felt good enough to assume the leadership of Heber Spring's community theater, leading it toward being more of an adult venue that still raises money for local charities.
When not planning shows for "12 Baywood -- Theatre in the Ground", Jeff has a list of other endeavors. He is the current Chairman of Cleburne County Democrats. Jeff says he sees the problems in his party, but still knows it as the group that provides the best chance for all citizens to find their way in life. He sings with Edensong Chorale and volunteers at The Other Side. Jeff buys and sells older cars, especially Rolls-Royce and Bentleys. He fishes the lake, goes on the road to watch baseball and football, and takes care of two cats. (Note -- Craddock says, "But I still like dogs better.") Jeff enjoys teaching ballroom dancing, and leading seminars on comparative religion and politics for civic or church groups. He is a member of the Saudi Aramco board of lectureship, which promotes better international relations. Craddock's travels have taken him to over forty countries where he has enjoyed skiing, scuba, hiking, paragliding and all the other touristy stuff.
You can see Jefferson and all the other players in the "12 Baywood" production of the comedy "Send Me No Flowers", November 30 through December 2. There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted for local charities and ministries. Call 501 270-1450 or 501 206-6868 for more information. Don't miss this, the most unique source of entertainment in Cleburne County.
Cutline Jefferson Craddock Directing