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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breaking News: Ex-Centaur Artistic Director Responds to Hudson Village Theatre Board Decision

Related News (CharPo links): 
Board Explains decision
Geordie artistic director responds to board decision
Andrew Johnston, Village Theatre AD, "thanked" by board

Latest: In a open letter to the forum established on Facebook to support Village Theatre artistic director Andrew Johnston against the company's board which ousted him, Gordon McCall, ex-artistic director of Centaur Theatre, responded with a letter:
An Open Letter To The Board Of Hudson Village Theatre
I was stunned to learn of your reorganization plans for the theatre and the termination of Andrew Johnston as Artistic Director. (Not renewing a contract is termination).
I have had the honor and privilege of working at Hudson Village Theatre several times over the years, both as an actor and a director. Every occasion was joyful. I was also fortunate to have been involved in successful shows each time out, a record I’m very proud of and which was only made possible by the remarkable Hudson Village Theatre artistic directors, staff and volunteers and actors, stage managers and designers who work for very little and make up the difference with their affection for Hudson Village Theatre. And believe me, none of this would have been possible without the beyond-the-call-of-duty contribution of founding Artistic Director, Heather Markgraff-Lowe and current artistic director, Andrew Johnston.
Most recently I directed Quartet for the theatre under Andrew’s company leadership. I always felt secure with Andrew at the helm. A sensible, supportive, collaborative leader with a clear artistic vision for the theatre and his community. We shared a wonderful, buoyant show that was a joy to be a part of. As always, when directing at HVT finances were at a minimum but with ingenuity, imagination and dedication a finely produced show with high production values was accomplished. Andrew was a cheerleader, hands on laborer, and thoroughly professional producer throughout, as he was when I directed Norm Foster’s Looking previous to that.
And as always, it was a one man band with Andrew. No production manager, no regular administrative staff, the man even changed the lightbulbs. And, equally important he received contributions from local artists with set building and props creation and costumes and more that only someone held in high esteem by the artistic community could have achieved. These artists happily did it for next to nothing because of Andrew.
The guest artistic director notion being presented is troublesome in that the board may be asking someone to take on the tasks of director, actor, production manager, technical director, custodian and community liaison under the misappropriated title of artistic director and with only a fraction of the time currently needed to produce this latest fine season of theatre. Most candidates for such a position are not going to come on board with their own tool kit and light bulbs.
I urge members of the board to give this decision further consideration for the sake of a jewel of a theatre that Quebec and the Montreal and Hudson community desperately needs to continue operating as a professional theatre. And out of respect for Andrew’s contribution. The revised operating model suggested may make the theatre an arts event road house with some part-time theatre, not something Canada Council will support and not what that beautiful old train station deserves.
I do not know all of the board members but I have great respect for board members Mark Drake and Steve Cromar, to name but two. Gentlemen, please reconsider this decision or if you do proceed, please ensure that the community is consulted.
Respectfully and Sincerely,
Gordon McCall
Former Artistic Director, Centaur Theatre
Associate Professor of Theatre, Head of Directing
Purdue University, Indiana

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