As Spooky Action Theater digs in, artists and staff members quit

As Spooky Action Theater digs in, artists and staff members quit

The Board of Spooky Motion Theater has placed Artistic Director Richard Henrich on leave of

The Board of Spooky Motion Theater has placed Artistic Director Richard Henrich on leave of absence, the theater announced previous 7 days. The news came 10 times immediately after DC Theater Arts printed an write-up outlining accusations of harmful leadership techniques at Spooky Action heading again many yrs.

But the phrases of Henrich’s go away of absence allow him to remain energetic in a lot of areas of the theater’s management. Spooky Motion Board President Floyd L. Norton, IV tells DC Theater Arts that Henrich will keep his seat on the board, in which he will be active in all choices going forward — including selections that determine his best management responsibilities. In addition, Norton claims that Henrich will continue to be treasurer of Spooky Action, in which he will keep on to make all money selections for the company this sort of as making ready budgets and reviews for the board.

DCTA graphic

Henrich’s depart of absence from his artistic director obligations will mostly modify his position at the theater in 1 particular way: “Henrich will not do any do the job in the theater constructing and will not interact with any of the creation group,” Norton claims.

The announcement will come amid a flurry of resignations at the theater corporation and even more accusations of mistreatment from folks who, right until they resigned final 7 days, were being doing work on yet another undertaking with Spooky Motion.

Many resources convey to DCTA that Spooky Action’s lengthy-time marketing supervisor (who does not want to be named in this short article) resigned on May possibly 26 Gillian Drake, who directed the theater’s New Performs in Action plan, resigned on May 29 (but retains her seat on the board) and newly employed Advancement and Group Engagement Manager Paul Marengo resigned on Might 30 immediately after only a few months on the work.

Norton tells DCTA that the board does not system to appoint an interim inventive director even though Henrich is on leave. Instead, James Sullivan, Spooky Action’s firm supervisor, will just take on some of the responsibilities traditionally executed by an creative director. In addition, Norton claims, Matty Griffiths will be becoming a member of Spooky Action as manufacturing supervisor.

Nonetheless, in a written assertion to DCTA, Norton stipulated that neither personnel member will carry out the inventive director responsibilities for the remaining generation in Spooky Action’s 2021–2022 period, Maple and Vine, set to engage in September 29 as a result of Oct 23, 2022. “Any creative director responsibilities relating specifically to the drop manufacturing of Maple and Vine will drop to the director of that creation,” Norton claims.

The 7 days before the board decided to put Henrich on depart of absence was a tumultuous a single at the DC-centered theater. At the time, a team of artists was scheduled to start off rehearsals for a creation identified as Can I Have This Dance, portion of an Revolutionary Directors Incubator (IDI) venture conceived and managed by Gillian Drake.

When accusations of toxic leadership at Spooky Action were being produced public final thirty day period, the resourceful team driving the IDI job requested that Henrich agree in producing to stay out of the constructing during their rehearsals.

In response, Henrich sent the users of the IDI venture a list labeled “Things I Will Not Do.” The list (a duplicate of which was despatched to DC Theater Arts) withdraws providers ordinarily executed by theater administration including taking out the trash, offering a box office for ticket orders, laundering costumes, and coordinating utilization of house with the church that Spooky Action performs in.

“It felt vengeful,” just one undertaking member states. “We appeared at the checklist and mentioned it appears to be like you are withdrawing all aid from us. Richard responded by declaring, ‘Yes. I am the theater and the theater is me.’”

For the reason that of this withdrawal of institutional guidance, which violated the phrases in the contracts signed by the 14 artists concerned in the challenge, the IDI leadership group collectively resigned from the venture on Might 27, shortly right before rehearsals have been scheduled to get started, citing “Henrich’s detrimental management approach.” The letter also refers to the Spooky Motion board of directors. “Spooky Motion Theater is however ruled by individuals who chose to proceed employing Richard even with their recognition of his damaging techniques. The Spooky Motion board chooses to continue to keep Richard in his placement as creative director we condemn that selection and refuse to lend our art as a signifies of development.”

Spooky Motion, in messages sent to the IDI management by Enterprise Supervisor James Sullivan, agreed to pay the artists half of the rate agreed to in the agreement.

Underneath a cloud: Artists explain toxic perform problems at Spooky Motion Theater (report by Nicole Hertvik, Might 20, 2022)