Updated: Aug 11, 2021
I was involved with Stage Right for about 6 years. In that time, I witnessed constant verbal abuse and manipulation taking place in that studio. I was lucky that my particular experience was mild, but even as someone watching what was happening and seeing my friends endure it was difficult. It set the tone, even if you were not one of the people directly being yelled at or manipulated, that this was just the way things were and that you either needed to get on board or leave. Any time you were put in a questionable situation, the excuse would be that this is how the industry is and this is preparing us for professional theater. I have since worked at multiple professional theaters (including Equity houses) and this kind of behavior has not happened anywhere else. In fact, at these theaters, they have gone out of their way to ensure the safety of their students or young artists to prevent situations like this from ever happening. It is not normal for adult educators to treat students like this, but it was an every day occurrence at Stage Right.
Watching my peers be treated this way had me constantly on edge and anxious that I would be next. I questioned every move I made, hoping that I wouldn’t be the one to cause the next blow up. It wasn’t a matter of if there would be one, it was who would cause it and why. The hardest part was seeing it happen to some of the most dedicated students. If it could happen to the people closest to the studio who were supposedly the favorites, who wouldn’t they be willing to treat me this way?