Threats of violence in the Skylight mess?
From the start of the Skylight Opera Theatre controversy, management has issued statements suggesting that some dissident artists have posed threats of physical violence against managing director Eric Dillner.
I had paid close attention to the blogs and Facebook postings dealing with the Skylight. I saw plenty of vitriol and ridicule, but not actual threats. I wondered why, if management took these threats seriously, no one had called the police — or at least made the threats public in order to build public sympathy, which has leaned heavily toward the performers.
I asked Kristin Godfrey, the c0mpany’s marketing director, to show me some evidence of these alleged threats, some of which had apparently served as grounds for firing singers Bryce Lord and Jon Stewart.
Here is the exchange in question, with West, whose artsyschmartsy.com blog has been at the center of things, starting the thread:
West: “Jonathan West firmly believes that [late company founder] Clair Richardson would be putting a cigar out on someone’s eyeball right now.”
Lord: “And I’d be glad to hold ‘someone’ down for him…”
Stewart: “I’ll cap his knees with an aluminum baseball bat.”
No one actually named Dillner in this exchange, but it’s safe to assume he’s the object of this chatter. Stewart’s words made me wince; I wouldn’t have chosen them. But it was a heated moment and it was the Internet, where people say a lot of silly things they don’t really mean. Those two lines, Lord’s especially, did not strike me as credible threats.
Still, I called Stewart to see how serious he was. Not very, as it turns out. He saw his line as an extension of West’s “Clair Richardson’s ghost” scenario.
“You’re raising a ghost to attack somebody,” Stewart said. “It couldn’t happen.
“When the threat talk came up, I didn’t realize that this was what [management was] talking about. I don’t think it reads as serious.”
“I’ve never done it before in my lifetime,” Stewart said. “I don’t think I’d do it over the Skylight.”
Do you own a bat?
“I’ve never owned a baseball bat. But I have been in two productions of ‘Damn Yankees.'”
It’s possible that Dillner has received threatening emails or snail mails. If so, I wish Skylight management would produce them. And as far as I know, no one has filed a complaint or a report with the police.
If management has nothing more than those two lines from a Facebook post to substantiate its claims of threatened violence, it should produce it. If not, it should stop crying wolf.
More recently, management has claimed that some artists are being threatened in that “you’ll never work again in this town” way, should they break ranks and return to their roles in the coming Skylight season. Again, I’ve heard not a peep of this from anyone involved.
Again, put up or shut up.