Monday, November 22, 2010

Directorial Misconduct

In all my years in theater, I don't believe I have ever said, "I will never work with (fill in a name)."

Now, I know I said a couple of weeks ago that I would not criticize performances...after all, anyone can have a bad night, or a bad scene, or a bad moment on stage, and it doesn't help to have it plastered forever all over the internet.  That is not what this is about.  This is about a director showing total disrespect for his actors, his audience, his playwright and himself.

At Sam Bass, directors always give the Speech (#417, I think it is) about giving the same performance on closing night as the troupe has been giving all along.  No Closing Night Shenanigans are permitted.  The Strike Night audience, after all, has paid the same price as all the other audiences who have seen the show. 

What happens when the director is the perpetrator of said shenanigans? 

Replacing the apple juice in the whiskey bottle with real whiskey is unconscionable no matter who does it.  It's the sort of juvenile prank usually attributed to high school or college students, not to the (supposedly mature) director of an adult production. 

Arts Project of Austin, you need to dump this guy.

According to my friend in the show, there was no discussion throughout the production process about who in the cast might be a recovering alcoholic, or who might be on any sort of medication.  Nope.  Gary Elmore decided that it would be hugely funny to surprise his actors with real whiskey.  One of them, who looks about 17, but is (hopefully) older, went ahead and drank all the drinks he was supposed to, and was quite drunk by the end of the performance.  The other choked and didn't drink any more.

The play had little publicity and small audiences, but I don't see any of that as an excuse for the director to act like a total dumb ass.

I would not recommend being a part of any production, on either side of the footlights, that employs Gary Elmore in any capacity.

Just sayin'.


  1. Didn't see the show, but I would heartily agree. When I do theatre, I'm there to do theatre, not horse around, or run risks of ruining a performance.

    I followed the Arts Project of Austin link you provided, and Gary seems to be the Artistic Director and a board member. So I would suspect he is unlikely to can himself.

  2. Hi, Kyle...and, as another board member was the one IN THE SHOW, who got drunk during the performance, it's probably all OK with them.

    Still, Artistic Directors have been canned before, for egregious misconduct.

    Perhaps if word were to get to whoever funds the enterprise...

  3. That's just not cool. I well remember 30 years ago the same thing was done to my dad on a closing night. He had the role of Pseudolus in "Forum". There was a scene where he was supposed to down a whole bowl of water, and they replaced the water with vodka. Fortunately, "Forum" is a comedy, so as soon as the liquid touched his lips my dad took in a whole mouthful, spat it toward the audience and let the rest of the bowl drain down the front of his shirt. He really was not amused, though.

  4. I would not be, either. I would be incensed. A friend of mine went to a wedding once, where some of her obnoxious cousins had spiked all the punch. There was nothing for children and other non-drinkers to drink! Somebody had to go to the store to get some sodas!

    Sounds as if your dad dealt with it with grace and courage!