The Naples Players has made a huge impact on David Whalley

Knowing how you want to spend your time in retirement and having a sense of purpose can prevent you from feeling unmoored and isolated. For Readers Theatre performer, David Whalley, he’s spent his 12 years of retirement pivoting into the world of art and theatre. “The Naples Players (TNP) has made a huge impact on my life. It has given me exposure to the arts and an experience that I would not otherwise have had. It’s  given me a lot of pleasure and welcome challenges. It’s important when you retire to be physically active, socially engaged, and intellectually stimulated, and TNP has allowed me to be all three.”

“I think one of the challenges you have in retirement is how to fill your time. Eventually, you hit a wall – you have to move on and find something different to do with your life, and it’s important to do as much as you can while you can. Time moves fast – the sooner you decide what you’re going to do, the more successful you’ll be in retirement.”

Born in Blackpool, England, David dedicated his entire life to medicine before retiring in January 2012. He began his studies at St. Andrews in Scotland, completed his residency in London, and studied and worked at McGill in Montreal for 14 years before coming to the United States to work for Cleveland Clinic establishing their system. “I remember sitting in my office in January in Cleveland looking out of my window and the snow was coming down horizontally against the window. I thought to myself, ‘I can go anywhere. What am I doing here?’ At the same time, Cleveland Clinic opened a location in Naples. I figured they probably needed an anesthesiologist, which is my specialty, so I came down here in 2001 to open up their hospital from the operating room standpoint.”

“Before I retired, I had the presence of mind to figure out what I wanted to do in retirement. I knew I wanted to be creative. I started off volunteering for the Baker Art Museum at Artis Naples, and I eventually found The Naples Players. I always wanted to get involved on stage, so I took Diane Davis’ acting class. She took me under her wing. From there, those classes matured into Readers Theatre.”

“I’ve always loved art and performing. I gave a lot of lectures in medicine, so I knew I could stand up on a stage and not quiver or dissolve completely. That gave me the confidence to be able to do something new. Being in Readers Theatre, you have the script right in front of you – it’s a gentle introduction to performance. You don’t have to memorize pages of text, and the hours are flexible. I highly encourage trying it out.”

For years, David acted as a member – and chair – of our Readers Theatre committee and oversaw the growth of our Road Show and Radio Show. “Watching the Road Show and Radio Show grow from just an idea to being fully operational was a great experience. The Radio Show is producing plays you wouldn’t believe – as many as one or two plays a month, and with over 20 different countries listening in. I’m quite pleased with what Readers Theatre has accomplished over the last few years. I’ve since retired from the committee, but I still get involved however I can. Next Readers Theatre show, I will be directing a one-act play, and my wife will be performing in the show.”

The next Readers Theatre show is A Source of Innocent Merriment, on stage April 28, 2024 in McSpadden Hall at Naples United Church of Christ. Tickets are available here:

Over 12 years of volunteering, David has also performed on the mainstage. “The professionalism of TNP is unparalleled. My favorite role was Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady. It was a marvelous experience. There is a huge reserve of talented people in the scene shop, costume shop, lighting, audio, backstage – everyone. I’ve worked with some great directors and people. It makes acting on stage brilliant because you’ve got all of this support.”

“I used to love doing Shakespeare productions on the Baker Stage in front of the theater. People would bring their own chairs, glasses of wine, and blankets, and enjoy the show for free. There would be kids sitting at the edge of the stage with facial expressions of wonder. They were engrossed in the performance and everyone was very appreciative of what we were doing.”

Thank you, David, for all of your hard work developing our Readers Theatre program, and for showing everyone that life does not end with retirement. We look forward to seeing you in A Source of Innocent Merriment on April 28!

We love getting new volunteers into the mix! If you’re new to the area or just new to volunteering at TNP, don’t hesitate to join the fun.

Test your skills at the next audition, or contact Pamela Larkin Caruso today at 239-434-7340 ext. 104 to find out what other opportunities there are backstage and front of house.

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