J. Rufus Caleb

2008 PEW FELLOW
Updated
30 Nov 2016

J. Rufus Caleb

J. Rufus Caleb, 2008 Pew Fellow. Directed by Glenn Holsten.

"I write in particularly precise images, so that I see it phrase by phrase. If there's anything I understand about (myself), it's the visual orientation, and the sound of the words on the ears."

While sitting on a Greyhound bus that was inching through traffic in Lake Placid, New York, J. Rufus Caleb (b. 1948) was reading a book on slavery in the United States. In his Pew Fellowship application, he wrote, "I put down the book, look out the window, and see what I know is a slave coffle walking along beside the bus. The image is strong enough, for a few seconds, to see down there on the road a tired shuffling line of enslaved Africans." This image led him to create an eight-minute play entitled, Slave Coffle w/ Observer. Caleb describes himself as a writer of "quirky theater pieces" that are highly personal in vision and presentation. He strives to create theater experiences that are "as visceral as they are intellectual." In addition to writing for the theater, Caleb has also written extensively for radio and television.

Caleb's plays have been produced by Theatre Double, Philadelphia; Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Madison, NJ; People's Light & Theatre, Malvern, PA, and Actor's Theatre of Louisville, KY. Caleb has also written a quartet of radio plays for WNYCs Radio Stage. His work The Devil and Uncle Asa received a Special Achievement Award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. In addition to this award, he has also received numerous other honors, some of which include fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a National Endowment for the Arts grant in Audio Production, and grants from the Samuel S. Fels Fund and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Caleb teaches in the theater program at the Community College of Philadelphia.