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55. 8/13 From a Former Crew Member at Hempfield High School

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

Portions of this story that relate to individuals not connected to Stage Right have been redacted.

The truth of the matter is quite simple. Stage Right does not need to be shut down, it instead needs to be ripped from the grip of the [Redacted] family until they can properly manage such a staple in the Greenberg community. I had the great displeasure of working alongside them when they first took over the direction of the theater program at the high school where, to my understanding, they still remain.

Beauty and the Beast was obviously not on par with the previous year's musical, and everyone expected that. The crew was given next to no direction on what sets to be built and what to paint. At first, there was only one gentleman to help us, and even then, it felt as though he had as much of an idea as us. For me, and several other members of the crew, the lack of direction was as bad as it got that year. It was a different story for the stage managers, who were effectively treated as professionals without the pay. The lead that year, [Redacted], I think, went into the work as best as she could and attempted to assist the family alongside the other two. The one night that I remember was the one where the cast was split off into several groups to practice, one of which being in the band room. The students that were initially put in charge of the event came to favor their friends, and eventually, most all of the leads were up at the front conducting the ensemble in their music rehearsal when they needed just as much work.

The lead stage manager was expected to maintain charge of this entire practice by keeping everyone silent. Her presence went virtually unnoticed without one of the adults present. That entire practice, not one thing was accomplished. I was one of the few that left right around the same time as the other stage managers and a few cast members and I was also one of the same people that watched another student have a breakdown in the school parking lot.

I stepped away from the crew the following year upon learning that the family was coming back and because of a greater want to focus on my school work. I chalked that final year up to “first year jitters.” That was not the case. I’d pass the lead stage manager and the other stage managers in the hall [ redacted student names] and ask how it was. The lead stage manager was the worst at hiding it. She never gave away much, but it was easy to see how badly it was affecting her.

Out of high school, and now nearly four years later, it’s become obvious that this issue is growing. I have many friends and family that have had brushes with the floundering company and have even acted/worked in their productions.

It is impossible to deny the effect that Stage Right has on greensburg and the surrounding areas. To deny their influence is to deny the joy they bring to so many. But to completely ignore the damage the [Redacted] family has done to so many is to damn those who have already spoken out.

If you claim support to Stage Right, you are either too naive to know the underbelly, or you are lying to yourself. There are in fact two sides to every story, the same way that there are two sides to every belt. You cannot decide whether or not you’ve hurt someone.

What I say next, I say with as much venom as text on a computer/phone screen and spit: Stage Right, a cultural staple of Greensburg, will continue to die and flail and falter as long as the [Redacted] family remains in control of the organization. Their influence led to the creation of this group. That is the only thing I and so many others remain grateful for.

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