Search

74. 9/23-From Bryan Bass-Riley, former parent

I really don't want to put my name out again with allegations of misconduct because it fuels the false narrative that the Artistic Director at Stage Right is peddling that the Stage Right Survivors movement is nothing more than a few families with an axe to grind. However, I took this issue to the Board of Directors and, as is typical, received no response-not even an acknowledgement of receiving it. As has been our argument from the beginning, if the Board will not act, public pressure remains our only tool to promote change.


After the Stage Right Survivors website was published the Artistic Director began secretly reaching out to Stage Right families that he thought would support him to share "his side of the story" and to solicit letters of support. I respect the Artistic Director's right to defend himself although a teacher under investigation secretly asking families of students to write letters of support does feel ethically inappropriate. However, if someone were publishing allegations against me I would certainly try to defend myself. I cannot fault him for that. What I do fault him for is defending himself with lies.


In the communication he sent to certain families, the Artistic Director told numerous lies about the Stage Right Survivors Movement and about my family. In this post I will detail the lies he told and provide the truth. I do this without fear because there is nothing that he can do to harm me and because the truth will out. However, I know that many in the movement, especially those working in the theater industry, are sadly not able to share my fearlessness or confidence because of the very real fear they have of being harmed through retribution. In his message, the Artistic Director falsely states that this movement is a small group of disgruntled families trying to destroy him as an act of revenge. It is true that as a movement we started because one of our members posted their story on social media which led to other folks coming forward to share their stories. To date over 70 brave people have told their stories. What is clear from the stories is that the pattern of abuse goes back years before my family ever set foot in Stage Right. This movement is not about, and never has been about, my family seeking retribution. This movement is 100% about working to ensure that future generations of theater students do not have to go through what the over 70 submitters on this website have gone through. It is also true, however, that children cannot be safe until the Board of Directors publicly and unequivocally states that the Artistic Director will never be permitted to return to Stage Right in any capacity.


The first lie that the Artistic Director told is that all of the problems began because of conflict between some kids (including my daughter) and his daughter. There is partial truth there. There was conflict between a group of kids starting in the summer of 2020. The reality is that kids will have drama and conflict, and sometimes that gets ugly. I'm not interested in rehashing who started what because it is irrelevant. However, let me state this as clearly as I can, this movement is not and never has been about seeking revenge because a kid hurt my kid's feelings. It is true ]that my family's involvement began as an indirect result of this conflict. Had the Artistic Director stayed out of it and let kids work things out among themselves this would be a non-issue, but he did not. Instead the Artistic Director cornered my daughter in a classroom alone and screamed at her about the conflict until my daughter had a panic attack. Then he walked away and left her alone crying. When we confronted him and asked to see the security footage from the classroom at the time this occurred, he said that the camera had "accidentally" been unplugged moments before the confrontation and therefore no footage was available. This is not the only story we have heard of security footage vanishing. After this situation we reluctantly allowed our daughter to remain engaged with Stage Right because at the time she wanted to pursue a career in musical theater, and Stage Right was the only option outside of going to Pittsburgh. However, as I detailed in the previous paragraph, this movement is not about these issues.


In December, 2020 our daughter was with a group of friends in a private home having a candid and (and what they believed to be) private conversation about their feelings about the Artistic Director and members of his family. They were frustrated, angry, and hurt, and they had the right to talk with their friends about what they felt. What they did not know was that this conversation was being recorded and would be turned over to the Artistic Director. This is where the next lie (as well as a partial truth) comes in. The Artistic Director referenced this recording in his secret message to Stage Right families and used to contents to denigrate my daughter. In his communication he falsely told select Stage Right families that he only wanted an apology, but we know that he used the content of the conversation to tell the Board of Directors that he no longer felt that he should be obligated to teach 3 of the students involved in the conversation (one of whom was my daughter). When we sought redress from the Board of Directors they did nothing, ruling that it was outside of their jurisdiction. It is of note that under Pennsylvania's wiretap law it is a felony to transmit the contents of a recording made without the consent of all parties involved or to use those contents in any way (https://shemtoblaw.com/secret-recordings-and-the-pennsylvania-wiretap-act/) . At least 2 times that I know of-when the Artistic Director revealed the contents of the recording to the Board and used them to try to have our children kicked out, and again when he revealed the contents of the recording to select Stage Right families in an attempt to make himself look better-the Artistic Director violated this law. When the Artistic Director used the contents of this recording in his secret message to families he did not mention to them that the kids were not at the studio, that the kids were in a private home, or that neither the kids nor their parents gave consent to have the conversation recorded despite his clear knowledge of these facts. I know that he knew of these facts because I emailed him regarding them on December 28, 2020.


The next lie that the Artistic Director told in his communication to select Stage Right families was that all of the stories on www.stagerightsurvivors.com were lies made up by the aggrieved families that he said were orchestrating the entire movement or were greatly exaggerated stories from a few other disgruntled former students and staff that we had recruited. To me this lie is the most heinous. I have frankly grown accustomed to my family being maligned by the Artistic Director, and I suspect that he has probably said much worse that I do not know about. However, his willingness to dismiss the stories of 70 people-many of whom I have never met-as lies fabricated as part of a twisted revenge plot is appalling. It is further, though, the kind of classic victim-blaming behaviors that abusers always use to maintain power in abusive systems. Let me be clear-not a single story on this website has been fabricated. Some of the stories are from members of the collective. However, the overwhelming majority were submitted from outside of our group. If it were ever necessary the receipt logs on the dashboard of our website could demonstrate that. Due to an oversight in how we set up the website it is true that the earliest blog posts all had my name on them. This is because when our group decided to go the route of publishing a website I paid for the domain (I was reimbursed by numerous members of the collaborative, a fact I can also prove if necessary), so I am the official website owner and so my name is the default author on the blog. It was a mistake to post stories listing me as the author of the stories. The stories were authored individually. They were edited (as minimally as possible) by members of the collective and posted on behalf of all of us.


I apologize that this post is so long and detailed. However, I value the stories of survivors too much to have them diminished by lies and illegal activities told by an abusive man who is trying to protect himself.


I am proud of what this movement is working to accomplish. The Artistic Director at Stage Right should never be allowed to work with children again. The stories on our website demonstrate unequivocally that he will abuse people and power for his own gain, and his ethical lapses outlined in some of our stories are inexcusable. I have no shame about my name being associated with the Stage Right Survivors. However, I will not allow the Artistic Director to use my family as a tool to discredit the stories of over 70 survivors.

730 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

11/19/21-Positive Change for Westmoreland Youth

On August 8, Stage Right Survivors initially reached out to the Board of Directors with stories of abuse and bullying of students going back almost 20 years perpetrated and encouraged by the former A

73. 9/22-From Stage Right Survivors

Content Warning: This post includes graphic content and images. No one under age 18 should access this post. ***UPDATES*** The Stage Right Twitter account has been deleted as of 10:03 am today. Why i

72. 9/18-From a former parent

My daughter was a student there for a few years. At the time we were hoping this would be a place for her to simply be herself and also be accepted for simply that, her unique self. She was not accept