Updated: Aug 21, 2021
During my time as a Stage Right student, I was subjected to unprofessionalism along with emotional and mental abuse.
The Artistic Director and The Education Coordinator created an environment that is toxic and unsafe for children. There are numerous experiences that I am willing to share to showcase this. Please note that these occurrences took place when I was a minor, between the ages of 14 and 17. For instance, the way the artistic director approached me outside of the rehearsal room made me extremely anxious and uncomfortable. When he wanted to speak to me in private, he would put his arm tightly around my shoulders. This made it extremely hard to disengage from him. One time, he placed his arms around me and asked me for personal details about a family situation that I did not feel comfortable discussing. I never brought this situation to his attention or to any other staff members. If he felt like I needed counseled, the appropriate action was to contact my family directly.
Secondly, in a teen acting class between 2016 and 2017, the artistic director directly stated, “you could even recall the first time you ever had an orgasm…what emotions did you feel during this time?” Here, he used this as an example for an emotional acting exercise that we were performing in class. Why did he feel like this was appropriate to say in a room full of minors? Also, in acting class, sex and drug use was referenced and talked about frequently. During a summer camp after the current stage manager graduated and returned from college, she discussed partying and experimenting with sex and drugs to a room full of minors.
Next, I would like to discuss a comment that my family made to me about the artistic director. After picking me up from rehearsal when I was in high school, a family member asked me why he looks at me creepily when I walk out to the car at night. This question caught me off guard because I was not aware I was being watched. When I asked what type of look he had given me, they said it came across as sexual.
Now, it is important to provide an example of the artistic director dictating friendships within the studio. On a specific occasion, he screamed at me in a room full of students and told me who I could and could not be friends with. During this situation, he said inappropriate and personal things about my friend who was not present at the time. I was told that if I remained friends with this individual, it would impact my experience as a performer.
Lastly, I would like to add that I do not think it is appropriate for Stage Right employees, parents, and parent volunteers to text minor students and cultivate personal relationships outside of Stage Right (especially without parental consent). I also believe that parent volunteers along with parents who stick around the studio for the duration of their child’s rehearsal should be required to have background checks and child clearances. One time when I was rehearsing, a parent volunteer was angry with me and dragged me by my wrist into the lobby and screamed in my face. This behavior is unacceptable and traumatized me for years. The Artistic Director, The Education Coordinator, and their family need to be held accountable for their actions and the behaviors that they permit in this organization.