Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tacoma Little Theatre Loses its Direction... Again

Word on the grapevine today is that local institution Tacoma Little Theatre's board has voted to release Producing Artistic Director David Duvall.

Duvall was hired back in February of 2007 after a national search to replace Judy Cullen. The last national search they had netted them utter failure Tom Jones (not the singer), so you have to wonder if "national search" is the way to go at this point.

As mentioned in the afore-linked Spew article, David came on board and into a new office model, sharing operating responsibilities with Business Director Cori Chapo. Except that by the end of 2007 Chapo had left. As had the Box Office Manager and the Education Director. And as far as I know none of them had been replaced. Why no replacements? Well, I can't speak for personal reasons why staff members left, but at the top of the list, I suspect, is that they simply weren't getting paid.

TLT has run into a massive number of hurdles recently, ranging from an incompetent technical director who helped many a set fail utterly to be completed for opening night, Dreamgirls getting pushed back a week due to cast walkouts, and the recent rights debacle over The Pajama Game (which from the sound of it fell largely on Duvall's shoulders).

No word on whether the Board will go on another wide-scale hunt, go back to a few finalists from the last one, or attempt to hire from within the community for Duvall's replacement. Also no word on if there's really anyone out the who can dig them out of the sinkhole that's been steadily collapsing around them for the last couple years. I really hope they can... TLT was a huge part of my life through jr. high, high school and college. I'd love to see it get back the spark it had doing Little Shop of Horrors, 12 Angry Men, and a host of other stellar shows.

8 comments:

NineInchNachos said...

I used to share a house with a box office manager from TLT. Good Times... well not for TLT i mean.

izenmania said...

Which one? I've known a couple in my time...

NineInchNachos said...

Gini Hawkins ?

Anonymous said...

Aiieee! Nineinchnachos is the guy of the vacuum cleaner moose head, right? Most impressive.

But it is my sincere hope that TLT finds a new artistic director who is dedicated to TLT, not to his or her own personal interests or special niche. An artistic director, in my opinion, needs to be more of an all around facilitator than just a music director, or just a director, or just an actor. He or she needs to have a solid working knowledge of all aspects of theatre, be it legal, technical, artistic, or business management. That is not to say they must be able to do it all, but they must be able to recognize ability in others, and to delegate tasks, and to pay attention to what is going on overall. It is a tough thankless (most of the time) job, especially these days. Community theatre works mostly with talented volunteers, who will give you their all if you treat them right. But if they lose that sense that they are doing something wonderful and worth their hard work, they will go somewhere else. Many of TLT's best and brightest have left, and when the people who produce good theatre leave, so does the audience, and, most importantly so do the donors. TLT has weathered many a disaster, and I hope it will weather this one too, but that board of directors needs to look very carefully for someone who not only has the desire, but also the experience and ability to do this job.

Anonymous said...

Currently there is a temp replacement for David. As for the box office manager (Gini), She was replaced by Nellie Hartmen. The education diretor (Amanda) was replaced by Casi Wilkerson.

izenmania said...

Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Me again. The temp's name is Doug Kerr.

Anonymous said...

Boy, you just never know how somebody might find your blog...

You've got lots of great info, but also some major holes in your story.

Hopefully, we don't attend the same parties.