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37. 8/11 From an Anonymous Former Student

Thank you for the anonymous option :)

I was apprehensive to share my experience, because I’m still confused from the manipulative behavior that I experienced from the artistic director at stage right almost ten years ago. In my case, I had started dating someone outside of the company, and was quickly told that I would need to break up with him. Unfortunately, he was also emotionally abusive and so at a very young age, I was being yelled at, manipulated, and shamed by two important men in my life.

As my anxiety and depression spiked as a result, the mistreatment became even more intense, to the point when I was shut in a small room with the director, while I cried, and told to look in the mirror and ask if that was who I wanted to be. Of course I didn’t want to be having a panic attack in the presence of a man who felt entitled to control over my personal life, but I was too young and worn down to understand that I hadn’t done anything wrong.

When I eventually left stage right, after having spent most of my young adult life there, nearly the entire community that I’d considered family cut off communication with me. This experience was devastating and shattered my self worth and self trust for almost ten years.

I am finally recovering, but it is so disheartening to see that this behavior has continued. Like many other students, I have more fond memories of stage right than negative ones, but unfortunately the trauma has made it hard to think fondly of the organization. I hope that the company can move forward into the healthy, supportive space that we all believe it can be.

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