Monday, April 14, 2008

More on NYTW Firings

From Mike Lawler's ecoTheater blog, "An Open Letter from Michael Casselli":

It is sad that an institution like the Workshop has devolved in such a way. I am angry, sad and more than a little bitter at the treatment the whole of production has been put through. What is even more enraging is that none of the individuals responsible for making this decision were present at our termination - Artistic Director Jim Nicola, Managing Director Billy Russo and Heather Randall. These were the people who, according to their messengers, were responsible for this decision. All of us in production are bearing the brunt of an organization which lacks the ability to enforce any thing resembling fiscal constraint with respects to the work that occurs here, as well as an organization which cannot effectively self govern its own desires. It is disgraceful that an institution such as the Workshop, with its mission and its presence within a community which prides itself on inclusion and diversity, would act in such a way as to cut off those very people which sustain it. Any pretense of progressive agendas with respect to issues of politics or social/cultural/artistic concerns should be discarded right now. This action is a clear indication of the lack of concern for those people who give their all to this institution and it insults those who believed in the Workshop as an example of an organization that could function as something resembling a family. Obviously that family doesn’t include us. I will miss many of you but not all of you.”

From my perspective, this is just business as usual for our corporate theatre scene, which is built on a hierarchical structure that sees theatre artists are expendable, ongoing relationships as valueless, and individual accountability as unnecessary. That neither the Nicola, Russo, or Randall felt as if they had to be present to take this action is an indication of the level of depersonalization we have come to in the non-profit theatre. That a financial crisis large enough to lead to such a layoff has occurred and it isn't Nicola, Russo, or Randall who asked to be accountable for it is an indication of how closeness to the board leads to teflon administration.

And I have little doubt that from most people in the theatre, the reaction will be a small shiver up and down the spine, a shrug, and a thought: "That's the way it goes..."

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