42. 8/11/21-From an anonymous former student
Updated: Aug 12, 2021
All I have to say is wow…although my stories can’t compare to the absolute abuse and trauma that students endured, and that parents witnessed, I would like to put my story out there today.
I am submitting this anonymously, as I am scared that the current Stage Right students may come after me…on social media, at school etc. I joined Stage Right when I received a scholarship from my JH musical in 2019. I was 13 years old. At first I loved Stage Right. The students seemed nice, and I enjoyed performing more than I enjoyed anything else. I quickly got along with everyone there and enjoyed the summer camp that I signed up for…however the “no tolerance for bullying” advertisement from Stage Right is simply not true. Coming from one of their posts, Stage Right claims to have “0 egos, 0 distractions, 100% happiness! Incredible peer to peer support, community and love!” This statement is COMPLETELY INACCURATE. I have experienced first hand bullying through several students at this organization.
Just last summer, a group of students had a group chat where one of the students asked the rest of them to do certain things to kick me out of Stage Right. All because this student felt as if I was taking their place amongst a certain group of friends. I am not the only student who has been bullied out of Stage Right…and I am so sorry that the students bullied out of such a “positive” organization had to keep quiet for this long. These students acting like this are the students that the Artistic Director favors. There have been several group chats where the students have been blatantly disrespectful of parents and students there…calling adults horrible names like the b word, and claiming that students HATE a certain individual. These kids are purely cruel…and after I’ve seen and heard the way the Artistic Director treats the students and staff there, I am not surprised that the kids act the way they do. And once again, these are the stars of Stage Right. These are the kids whom the Artistic Director trusts. These are the kids that land all of the roles.
Although teen drama happens, the Artistic Director had his daughter put 2-3 girls in charge amongst a small group group of dancers that I was apart of for a show. His daughter instructed these teenage “leaders” to “yell at others” in our dance group if need be. This caused one innocent girl to start crying in the dressing room during tech week because one of the head Stage Right bullies was put IN CHARGE of the group of girls.
Although Stage Right is where “Dreams Begin,” all I wanted to do was leave…I called my mom crying telling her I would like to go home. Mid-call with my mom the bully put in charge bursts into my dressing room and says “I thought I told you to meet in the hall way.” THIS is how the “no tolerance for bullying” organization has their students acting. Again, this girl is a Stage Right star, lands every role she auditions for, and there was no punishment on her behalf for making everyone in the group miserable and for yelling at the other girls in the group. No adult talked to us, to try to handle things. Instead, the Artistic had his older bully daughter handle everything…as usual. She claims that her and her friends can ruin lives…and it’s true that they can.
I am also going to mention the inappropriate monologues that were being used in a teen acting class…where the oldest student in that class was just 16, and the youngest was 13! We would read monologues calling others a b*tch and saying “f you” to the other person in the monologue…once again I’m 15!! That was my monologue that I had to read. The other character in my monologue was played by a 14 year old girl. I had to read an uncomfortable monologue at one of the showcases that mentioned accidentally getting pregnant at age 14, and so I decided to not do the showcase because I did not feel comfortable reading that in front of my family. There were several kids in our acting classes that would sit there and shake, experience PTSD and trauma flashbacks and even some CRYING in the Artistic Director’s acting classes over the exercises he had us doing. It was disturbing and upsetting to see peers and friends in this state of mind in an adult’s class.
Along with that, there were tik toks even found on social media where one of the Stage Managers mentioned how much she could buy at Taco Bell with her body count…and this was talked about amongst the students. Not to mention one of the bullies, which happens to be the Artistic Director’s daughter’s best friends making fun of other students…recording these students performing and posting them! One of these videos was of a student who struggles with hearing loss, and it was captioned something along the lines of, “Well at least she is enjoying herself.” According to the director, the girl doing this is a “Very special 13 year old.” She is worshipped at Stage Right. She’s a “queen on her throne.” Many children were and still are a victim of her harassment, the Artistic director’s daughter harassment, and other older teenage girl’s bullying. Again, nothing has been done. His daughter will NEVER be in the wrong. This same student previously mentioned and her group of bully friends went to a production I was in at another theater school and this student claimed how she wanted to “kill herself” instead of watching the show. The entire older stage right group (13-17) went to the production to make fun of it… just to run out afterwards. Absolutely disgusting! These are NOT nice kids at Stage Right. Take it from someone who was almost kicked out by the kids at Stage Right! There are kids even as young as 13 commenting on other student’s weight and making fun of them! But Stage Right is “So Welcoming,” right?
The bias at Stage Right is simply unbearable. The Director’s daughter lands every role she auditions for, and is always the star of the show opening night. One of her bully friends said to me, “If I don’t get the part I auditioned for, I will cry…” and told me that one of the summer camp shows was precast for months before the casting (as most shows are precast among the same group of people.) The show was casted around certain girls the Artistic Director wanted to play the leads. No one else is ever given a chance at Stage Right! It is the same handful of the Director’s favorites landing the lead roles every single show, while the others are put as fill-ins.
Even while I was in the Sensations, the Artistic Director’s daughter would pick who she wanted to have solos, and the people that had been in it for years never received a solo. As his daughter said, “I can ruin your life.” That’s the type of mentality down at Stage Right. It’s not about kids supporting each other like they should be. There’s biased casting. There is extreme bullying. There are disturbing things coming from a majority of the staff at Stage Right. There are even kids vaping in the back of the Choreographer’s dance class! Not to mention the disturbing sexual comments made about other girl’s breasts, so on and so forth by the Artistic Director, who is in his 50’s!
I would have loved to pursue Stage Right, but after all of the stores of extreme abuse, harassment, and sexual comments, I am far too scared to go back there. I’m scared for my mental and physical health…which NO child should be if they’re doing something they love. Stage Right is not a safe place. Coming from a former student who worshiped SR, think about the experience that you REALLY want your kids to have at Stage Right, because if you are looking for a positive one, then Stage Right is not the place that you want to go.