Updated: Aug 21, 2021
First and foremost I want to commend each person who has spoken out and told us their story, I hear you, I am with you, and I am one of you. Thanks to your bravery to take this leap it has allowed many others, including myself, to do the same, Thank you.
Unfortunately every story I’ve seen told by a survivor is true. I myself have been subjected and witnessed my friends and other staff members be mistreated, verbally abused, overworked and belittled by the Artistic Director. The cliques and the social hierarchy are true, and in my personal experience I have been on both sides of the coin, I’ve been one of the “favorites” and I’ve also have been treated like an outcast if I didn’t quite fit the social dynamic at the time. I was also a member of the work study group of my time and because of this it meant I lost certain opportunities when it came to roles compared to paying students, on top of that if we did slip up or make a mistake he made sure we knew about it.
One example of emotional abuse and manipulation from a personal experience that I am comfortable sharing is during an acting class, he was teaching the “Repetition Exercise” and this particular time there was a lot of friction among each clique and being fully aware of this and what the context of the situation he paired myself and a now close friend, but at the time there were bitter feelings between us, and the phrase he chose for us in front of other young students was “I hate you” over and over until one of us felt like the other person or ourselves meant or believed it. After the class there was no mention or acknowledgement about how that affected us or why he did that, after all, what happens in acting class stays in acting class.
Sadly these types of things have been happening all over the industry for years, not just in this region, speaking out now and placing the accountability where it’s due is important so that we can inspire change and continue to grow, and create.
Matthew has inspired me to speak out despite the fear, the anxiety, and the worry of any possible repercussions either in my career or my social life, I encourage to read his experience.