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Monday, August 22, 2011

Breaking News: Geordie boss takes on Village Theatre board

In an open letter, Dean Fleming, artistic director of Geordie Theatre, has addressed concerns surrounding the non-renewal of Andrew Johnston's contract as AD for Hudson's Village Theatre. The text of the letter follows;

"Dean Fleming
An open letter to the Hudson Village Theatre Board of Directors

I write this letter to you as a an actor and director that has worked in your theatre during 7 separate seasons, as a theatre artist with a long history in Montreal, as a person who was called by the board of directors when they wanted advice while hiring an Artistic Director and as someone who is concerned with the future of your theatre.
I would be interested to understand the board of directors’ logic in letting Andrew Johnston go? My understanding is that he will not be replaced but that the board, or more specifically Clint Ward, the president of the board, will run the theatre? Is this true? If so, please could you explain why?
Hudson Village Theatre is part of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. Will you now be leaving that organization? I ask because without an Artistic Director the theatre will no longer be considered professional, nor should it be. Who will be calling the professional artists to ask them to come to work, to come and create at the theatre? What Canadian playwrights do you plan to produce? Who will be writing the grant applications to the funding bodies explaining the Artistic vision behind the company? Who will come to the Quebec theatre region meetings to represent Hudson Village Theatre? Who is the artist/theatre person that will do these things?
About four years ago Mark Drake, then president of the board, asked me if I would join the members of the theatre, the board and other stakeholders on a one day retreat to talk about what Hudson Village Theatre was. I remember the word pride coming up that day as board members and others talked about the town of Hudson having a professional theatre company. I fondly remember many people in that room saying that it was the Artistic Director’s voice that mattered most in creating the vision. I don’t remember anyone in the room mentioning the possibility of the theatre not having an Artistic Director or wondering aloud whether the board might do a better job. No, there was no such hubris on that day.
So I ask the question…what happened? Many of the current board members (including current president Clint Ward) were in that room with me that day. What has changed? Has Mr. Ward, or another board member gained some incredible experience over the past few years? Has great study been done in Canadian Theatre by the board? Has someone been making the same contacts across the country that Mr. Johnston has been making? Who on the board now has great knowledge on creating theatre?
As a person who has spent many, many hours working in your theatre to try and give your audiences something great, I believe I have the right to ask all of these questions and I ask in the most public way because the theatre is a public place.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Dean Patrick Fleming"


  1. Unthinkable hubris. If Clint Ward wants to become a de-facto Artistic Director, I suggest he start his own theatre company and do what we all have done, start at the beginning. These are the actions of someone who really has no concept of the realities of creating theatre. If the direction the board wishes to take is that of down grading the theatre to a community theatre, then this act will certainly achieve that goal.
    Alison Muir, MFA acting Carnegie Mellon University and Moscow Art Theatre School.

  2. There is a high -- and frightening -- number of Board Presidents taking over directorship positions at this time of tough economics The trust btw a board president and a director (AD or ED) has got to be real for the real magic to happen. Heaven knows the ADs/EDs work around the clock. Then guess what? Knife at your back!

    We are all the poorer for it & I commend Dean's letter to voice concerns publically.

    To new AD/EDs signing contracts: READ CAREFULLY!


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