JoeInscoe 
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Re: “Letter: In Firehouse Controversy, Time to Come Together

Ms. Dray,
You are certainly correct when you extol the many supportive, creative, and visionary boards of directors of arts organizations, boards who collaborate with their artistic leadership to produce great gifts for their communities. I believe such a symbiosis existed when your husband served on the board of Firehouse Theatre, and certainly their efforts benefitted Richmonders greatly. Those were artistically rich times for Firehouse, your very talented son being no small part of the richness; his were among the most stunning performances ever presented on that stage.
With all due respect, however, you could hardly be more wrong to imagine that the current board, particularly its executive committee, is among such generous, collaborative groups, acting from motives of nurture and support of the artistic wealth they inherited. They are equally wrong if they somehow imagine their stewardship of the theater has been driven by noble goals toward artistic excellence. The Machiavellian tactics wielded by the executive committee to undermine Firehouse's artistic leadership in favor of ego-driven spoils constitute perhaps THE most stunning drama ever produced anywhere near that stage.
The public bitterness and outrage toward the current board leadership are hardly figments of Mr. Timberline's imagination. And they aren't born out of some simplistic notion that Piersol was the greatest artistic director ever, or that the theater can't exist without her. They are born, rather, out disgust and near disbelief at the unprincipled, unethical actions that led to her dismissal. They are born from witnessing an executive committee who behaved (and continues to behave) with astonishingly bad judgment (which its president has publicly admitted), brazen deceit (both with the public and within its own ranks), and blatant lack of respect for the hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of former Firehouse supporters who have formally asked the board to reconsider and reverse their decision, and who remain formally committed to boycotting the theater until such respect is paid.
When the executive committee engineered its ouster of Piersol, it also, if unwittingly, engineered the alienation of a major segment of its own family of supporters. But instead acting to remedy that fact through attempts at reconciliation, or even by respectful acknowledgment that the family was indeed broken, they’ve moved along as though they have everything under control, in spite (in the true meaning of that word) of all those pesky rabble rousers who insist on making trouble by protesting and boycotting. They’re making unprecedented efforts to seduce wealthy friends into filling the seats and coffers left vacant by former family turned rabble rousers. They’ve launched a deceitful campaign among faculty of the neighborhood theater department, seeing it as an alternate source of talent now that most of the city's professional artists have refused to work there.
Last December, one prominent board member tried to allay her colleagues' concerns over dismissing Ms. Piersol by assuring them, "Believe me, artistic directors are a dime a dozen." Apparently they took comfort in her words and moved ahead, and are learning now that the fixes are far from cheap. Once they recognized the furor they'd inspired by unceremoniously booting Piersol, they seem to have trusted this board member once again, when she opined, "Believe me, it'll all blow over in no time." Now, four months later, seeing that little has blown over, one might hope their belief in her might be tempered with some doubt. Yet they continue to follow, struggling alongside her, trying to woo funders into giving up their money, and artists and audiences their principles.
Oh, and the rabble rousers? Well, they may have seemed a little quieter of late, but believe me, they're being peskier than ever, and rousing far more than rabble; they're rousing awareness and questions from funding organizations and individuals whose support of the theater in the past has been critical, and whose withdrawal of support could be fatal. Their list of avowed boycotters continues to grow. They continue to stand vigil outside the theater before every performance, where they’ve occasionally outnumbered the patrons within.
They're rousing awareness among those who have believed it time to forgive and forget, or that they had no dog in this fight, or the easy notions that all theaters must be supported solely because they’re theaters, or that healing is somehow in the hands of the wounded. More and more people are realizing these aren’t rational positions under the circumstances—that in the end, healing can come only from those who inflicted the wounds, and they’re not lifting a finger. Implored for their help, with full assurances of cooperation, they’ve reluctantly made shows of glancing at the wounds, then turned away, asserting there were no problems worthy of their concern.
This protest against the Firehouse board isn't based solely on the fact that the board pushed Carol from her position without warning and before she was ready. Initially, it was a rational, honorable, steadfast response to the self-serving, irresponsible, deceitful, unethical principles that incited the push. Since, the protest has only broadened, in response to the defensive, insensitive refusal to acknowledge any harm done, and certainly no sense of obligation toward restoring a severely broken theater family.
A young friend who, upon finally seeing these points, drew an apt if perhaps over-the-top analogy. He said, "Oh. Working for the Firehouse now, or buying a ticket, is sort of like making muffins for a Klan bake sale, or buying one." Yeah. It's sort of like that. Nobody’s denying the product looks good, tastes good, and is made by fine artisans. It’s about the principle behind it all.
While I admire your ability to celebrate all the excellent boards of artistic organizations, I must admit I share Mr. Timberline’s difficulty in doing so while witnessing this unprincipled board blithely, blindly continuing to drive our once beloved theater toward its destruction, heedless of the harm they’ve already done.

18 likes, 50 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 04/25/2013 at 11:41 AM

Re: “Letter: In Firehouse Controversy, Time to Come Together

Ms. Dray,
You are certainly correct when you extol the many supportive, creative, and visionary boards of directors of arts organizations, boards who collaborate with their artistic leadership to produce great gifts for their communities. I believe such a symbiosis existed when your husband served on the board of Firehouse Theatre, and certainly their efforts benefitted Richmonders greatly. Those were artistically rich times for Firehouse, your very talented son being no small part of the richness; his were among the most stunning performances ever presented on that stage.
With all due respect, however, you could hardly be more wrong to imagine that the current board, particularly its executive committee, is among such generous, collaborative groups, acting from motives of nurture and support of the artistic wealth they inherited. They are equally wrong if they somehow imagine their stewardship of the theater has been driven by noble goals toward artistic excellence. The Machiavellian tactics wielded by the executive committee to undermine Firehouse's artistic leadership in favor of ego-driven spoils constitute perhaps THE most stunning drama ever produced anywhere near that stage.
The public bitterness and outrage toward the current board leadership are hardly figments of Mr. Timberline's imagination. And they aren't born out of some simplistic notion that Piersol was the greatest artistic director ever, or that the theater can't exist without her. They are born, rather, out disgust and near disbelief at the unprincipled, unethical actions that led to her dismissal. They are born from witnessing an executive committee who behaved (and continues to behave) with astonishingly bad judgment (which its president has publicly admitted), brazen deceit (both with the public and within its own ranks), and blatant lack of respect for the hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of former Firehouse supporters who have formally asked the board to reconsider and reverse their decision, and who remain formally committed to boycotting the theater until such respect is paid.
When the executive committee engineered its ouster of Piersol, it also, if unwittingly, engineered the alienation of a major segment of its own family of supporters. But instead acting to remedy that fact through attempts at reconciliation, or even by respectful acknowledgment that the family was indeed broken, they’ve moved along as though they have everything under control, in spite (in the true meaning of that word) of all those pesky rabble rousers who insist on making trouble by protesting and boycotting. They’re making unprecedented efforts to seduce wealthy friends into filling the seats and coffers left vacant by former family turned rabble rousers. They’ve launched a deceitful campaign among faculty of the neighborhood theater department, seeing it as an alternate source of talent now that most of the city's professional artists have refused to work there.
Last December, one prominent board member tried to allay her colleagues' concerns over dismissing Ms. Piersol by assuring them, "Believe me, artistic directors are a dime a dozen." Apparently they took comfort in her words and moved ahead, and are learning now that the fixes are far from cheap. Once they recognized the furor they'd inspired by unceremoniously booting Piersol, they seem to have trusted this board member once again, when she opined, "Believe me, it'll all blow over in no time." Now, four months later, seeing that little has blown over, one might hope their belief in her might be tempered with some doubt. Yet they continue to follow, struggling alongside her, trying to woo funders into giving up their money, and artists and audiences their principles.
Oh, and the rabble rousers? Well, they may have seemed a little quieter of late, but believe me, they're being peskier than ever, and rousing far more than rabble; they're rousing awareness and questions from funding organizations and individuals whose support of the theater in the past has been critical, and whose withdrawal of support could be fatal. Their list of avowed boycotters continues to grow. They continue to stand vigil outside the theater before every performance, where they’ve occasionally outnumbered the patrons within.
They're rousing awareness among those who have believed it time to forgive and forget, or that they had no dog in this fight, or the easy notions that all theaters must be supported solely because they’re theaters, or that healing is somehow in the hands of the wounded. More and more people are realizing these aren’t rational positions under the circumstances—that in the end, healing can come only from those who inflicted the wounds, and they’re not lifting a finger. Implored for their help, with full assurances of cooperation, they’ve reluctantly made shows of glancing at the wounds, then turned away, asserting there were no problems worthy of their concern.
This protest against the Firehouse board isn't based solely on the fact that the board pushed Carol from her position without warning and before she was ready. Initially, it was a rational, honorable, steadfast response to the self-serving, irresponsible, deceitful, unethical principles that incited the push. Since, the protest has only broadened, in response to the defensive, insensitive refusal to acknowledge any harm done, and certainly no sense of obligation toward restoring a severely broken theater family.
A young friend who, upon finally seeing these points, drew an apt if perhaps over-the-top analogy. He said, "Oh. Working for the Firehouse now, or buying a ticket, is sort of like making muffins for a Klan bake sale, or buying one." Yeah. It's sort of like that. Nobody’s denying the product looks good, tastes good, and is made by fine artisans. It’s about the principle behind it all.
While I admire your ability to celebrate all the excellent boards of artistic organizations, I must admit I share Mr. Timberline’s difficulty in doing so while witnessing this unprincipled board blithely, blindly continuing to drive our once beloved theater toward its destruction, heedless of the harm they’ve already done.

21 likes, 50 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 04/25/2013 at 11:41 AM

Re: “Letter: In Firehouse Controversy, Time to Come Together

Ms. Dray,
You are certainly correct when you extol the many supportive, creative, and visionary boards of directors of arts organizations, boards who collaborate with their artistic leadership to produce great gifts for their communities. I believe such a symbiosis existed when your husband served on the board of Firehouse Theatre, and certainly their efforts benefitted Richmonders greatly. Those were artistically rich times for Firehouse, your very talented son being no small part of the richness; his were among the most stunning performances ever presented on that stage.
With all due respect, however, you could hardly be more wrong to imagine that the current board, particularly its executive committee, is among such generous, collaborative groups, acting from motives of nurture and support of the artistic wealth they inherited. They are equally wrong if they somehow imagine their stewardship of the theater has been driven by noble goals toward artistic excellence. The Machiavellian tactics wielded by the executive committee to undermine Firehouse's artistic leadership in favor of ego-driven spoils constitute perhaps THE most stunning drama ever produced anywhere near that stage.
The public bitterness and outrage toward the current board leadership are hardly figments of Mr. Timberline's imagination. And they aren't born out of some simplistic notion that Piersol was the greatest artistic director ever, or that the theater can't exist without her. They are born, rather, out disgust and near disbelief at the unprincipled, unethical actions that led to her dismissal. They are born from witnessing an executive committee who behaved (and continues to behave) with astonishingly bad judgment (which its president has publicly admitted), brazen deceit (both with the public and within its own ranks), and blatant lack of respect for the hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of former Firehouse supporters who have formally asked the board to reconsider and reverse their decision, and who remain formally committed to boycotting the theater until such respect is paid.
When the executive committee engineered its ouster of Piersol, it also, if unwittingly, engineered the alienation of a major segment of its own family of supporters. But instead acting to remedy that fact through attempts at reconciliation, or even by respectful acknowledgment that the family was indeed broken, they’ve moved along as though they have everything under control, in spite (in the true meaning of that word) of all those pesky rabble rousers who insist on making trouble by protesting and boycotting. They’re making unprecedented efforts to seduce wealthy friends into filling the seats and coffers left vacant by former family turned rabble rousers. They’ve launched a deceitful campaign among faculty of the neighborhood theater department, seeing it as an alternate source of talent now that most of the city's professional artists have refused to work there.
Last December, one prominent board member tried to allay her colleagues' concerns over dismissing Ms. Piersol by assuring them, "Believe me, artistic directors are a dime a dozen." Apparently they took comfort in her words and moved ahead, and are learning now that the fixes are far from cheap. Once they recognized the furor they'd inspired by unceremoniously booting Piersol, they seem to have trusted this board member once again, when she opined, "Believe me, it'll all blow over in no time." Now, four months later, seeing that little has blown over, one might hope their belief in her might be tempered with some doubt. Yet they continue to follow, struggling alongside her, trying to woo funders into giving up their money, and artists and audiences their principles.
Oh, and the rabble rousers? Well, they may have seemed a little quieter of late, but believe me, they're being peskier than ever, and rousing far more than rabble; they're rousing awareness and questions from funding organizations and individuals whose support of the theater in the past has been critical, and whose withdrawal of support could be fatal. Their list of avowed boycotters continues to grow. They continue to stand vigil outside the theater before every performance, where they’ve occasionally outnumbered the patrons within.
They're rousing awareness among those who have believed it time to forgive and forget, or that they had no dog in this fight, or the easy notions that all theaters must be supported solely because they’re theaters, or that healing is somehow in the hands of the wounded. More and more people are realizing these aren’t rational positions under the circumstances—that in the end, healing can come only from those who inflicted the wounds, and they’re not lifting a finger. Implored for their help, with full assurances of cooperation, they’ve reluctantly made shows of glancing at the wounds, then turned away, asserting there were no problems worthy of their concern.
This protest against the Firehouse board isn't based solely on the fact that the board pushed Carol from her position without warning and before she was ready. Initially, it was a rational, honorable, steadfast response to the self-serving, irresponsible, deceitful, unethical principles that incited the push. Since, the protest has only broadened, in response to the defensive, insensitive refusal to acknowledge any harm done, and certainly no sense of obligation toward restoring a severely broken theater family.
A young friend who, upon finally seeing these points, drew an apt if perhaps over-the-top analogy. He said, "Oh. Working for the Firehouse now, or buying a ticket, is sort of like making muffins for a Klan bake sale, or buying one." Yeah. It's sort of like that. Nobody’s denying the product looks good, tastes good, and is made by fine artisans. It’s about the principle behind it all.
While I admire your ability to celebrate all the excellent boards of artistic organizations, I must admit I share Mr. Timberline’s difficulty in doing so while witnessing this unprincipled board blithely, blindly continuing to drive our once beloved theater toward its destruction, heedless of the harm they’ve already done.

33 likes, 50 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 04/25/2013 at 11:35 AM

Re: “Firehouse Theatre Turns Hose on Itself

So sorry, Ruth; never mind. I just realized I'd thanked you for comments made by Debbie. Thank you, Debbie! You, Ruth, said: "I firmly believe the board want to keep the community involved as well as they want to raise the level of the business to a higher level." I really can't offer thanks for that; I don't even know what it means.

26 likes, 47 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 12/28/2012 at 3:16 AM

Re: “Firehouse Theatre Turns Hose on Itself

I'd probably be taking the higher road by remaining silent in this conversation. But gosh, Ruth, it'd just be rude if I didn't thank you profusely for pointing out where I've gone wrong in thinking I was any kind of actor all these years. Ever since you introduced my performance as Willy Loman as an example of Firehouse's shortcomings, I must say I've been suffering something of an identity crisis. How embarrassing to think that for 30+ years I'd thought I was a professional actor. See, I have these silly little cards in my wallet that say I've belonged to the two big professional actors unions since the 80s. And (stupid me!), I've just been filling out the papers required to start collecting my Screen Actors Guild pension. Thanks for letting me know what a waste of time that is; anybody knows you can't collect a pension for something you haven't worked at professionally. Oops! Somehow, though, I could have sworn I'd been making my living solely as an actor for a few decades now. And while I can't be but so objective about whether I'm a "good actor," I'd thought I must at least be a "real" one. When Spielberg cast me last year as Congressman Andrew Finck in his film "Lincoln," I actually fooled myself into thinking that was a pretty good sign that I was a "real actor," perhaps even a tad better than "acceptable." And while I don't mean to embarrass anyone, I'm not the only only idiot who may have had such thoughts; a number of Richmonders whose names appear in the "Lincoln" credits (including a few who have commented above) have deceived themselves into thinking they were "real actors." But as I read your insightful scrivenings a little more closely, I realized you'd generously given all us wannabe (thoughtwewere) actors a gem of priceless wisdom, without which no actor can ever hope to be "professional," "good," and "real." If I could type these words in gold I would; if I could tattoo them on my forehead and think anybody might cast me again I would: "I realize the actor was a local actor in the lead, but what if he were top notch and brought in. It would have been so much better." Why didn't anybody point this out to me when I left my last "real" job so long ago?! Take note, all actors who've aspired to be top notch: the only way to achieve that lofty goal is to be from out of town, so you can be "brought in!" How much better I could have served Firehouse and its audiences as Willy Loman if I'd been brought in from Los Angeles, back when I was living there, thinking I was starring in a tv series. Of course I'd have had to take a break from whatever that Paramount Studios job actually was, so I could be "brought in" to Richmond, but it would have been worth it; clearly I "would have been so much better" than I could ever have hoped to be by "being a local actor in the lead." I could even have been better had Firehouse "post a casting notice in any New York trade publication for actors," and I'd answered, because then, obviously, I'd have had to have been from New York! I'm particularly ashamed about all this because I'd actually heard this "out-of-town" wisdom before, but then they were calling it GGD—"Grass is Greener Disorder"—so naturally I thought they were talking lawn chemicals. Anyway, thank you so much, Ruth, for your brilliant aid to my career. Next time I do a show in Richmond, I promise to be better at it; I'll rent an apartment in Short Pump, so I can be brought in. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank you, too, Dave, for your extraordinary optimism on the future of Firehouse. Frankly, it gave me even greater pause than anything Ruth said: "I am hoping ther board will keep thater alive and produce local productions and put names or good actors inthe leads to keep it alive." Now that's really saying something!

85 likes, 53 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 12/28/2012 at 3:09 AM

Re: “Firehouse Director Ousted

Brava, Ms. Broth! You are a brave soul to be so forthright in this public forum, and you make it clear that the resolution put up for a vote was essentially a choice between two evils, the resolution itself lacking unanimous approval by the board. This explains SO much. I'd been thoroughly astonished and bitterly distraught to think the entire board, some of whom I count as friends—reasonable friends—when faced with a clear-cut resolution to force Carol's retirement, could possibly have voted to do so. It sounds as though forced retirement was a foregone conclusion within the resolution. Have I understood you correctly?

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 12/19/2012 at 1:47 PM

Re: “Firehouse Director Ousted

How very sad, and telling, that neither of the comments from board members here includes a word in defense of their votes to force Carol's retirement. Might either be so bold as to at least say whether they would vote the same way today, given the unanimous, vigorous "Nay" voiced by the rest of Richmond's theater community? I, for one, would feel a modicum of hope in knowing they harbored some regret for their decisions of last week. --Joe Inscoe

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by JoeInscoe on 12/19/2012 at 12:05 PM

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