Sarasota woman uncovers her past

Melissa Havard of Sarasota traveled in July to Ethiopia — the land of her birth — on a journey of discovery to learn more about her own past. But mostly, she wanted to know more about her father, Philip Caplan, who died when she was 6 years old but had close ties to the east African nation.

Her discovery of her father’s manuscript earlier this year stoked her hunger for more details about how Caplan, working on a Fulbright scholarship, attempted to change the face of Ethiopian drama and theater education — and mostly succeeded.

Before departing, Havard sent an email to Addis Ababa University in hopes of reaching Yonas Ademesu, who had met Caplan when he was a teacher and Ademesu was a student. Now now an assistant professor of literature, Ademesu wrote back in March.

He compressed 50 years of catching up into six paragraphs and begged for photos of Havard’s mom and dad. “No, your dad didn’t help found the Creative Arts Center,” Ademesu stated, “he created it, single-handedly you might say.” Read more


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