Stephen Ryan 
Member since Oct 15, 2013



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Re: “Deejay Gray, 25

Hello, all. Please let me step in and lend some clarity and closure here if I can.

While I don’t know that the explosive reactions here on this page in the past few days are rooted entirely in any story from me, I again reiterate that I have no idea who James Bowden and Lynn are. They may have similar sentiments to my own historically. However, as said in my previous post, I don’t subscribe to that m.o. of identity-skewed posts online because of the probable traceability alone.

It’s no secret that I’ve had my legitimate professional concerns and frustrations in dealing with this company and its core members. Just as I have no problem saying that there is not one concern that I’ve ever had that was not founded, well documented and supportable, and that I – as a historically involved advocate, donor, and at one time board member candidate when the company was slated to go non-profit – did not have a right or legitimate reason to be concerned about. Additionally, I have no problem saying that any concerns that I voiced to any colleague or associate were of a concerned and conscionable nature, totally justifiable, and rooted in absolute integrity.

HOWEVER (!), it also goes without saying that any controversy or polarizing opinions regarding my professional history with either this company, Mr. Gray’s professional practices or behavior, or anyone else involved…needs to stay in the past now. How do we heal if we continue to pick at a wound, right?

First of all, regardless of any unfavorable business history I may have had with TheatreLAB during my time of involvement as a advocate, donor and board candidate…I would like to CONGRATULATE Deejay Gray and Annie Colpitts for making a very big move in integrity. Very recently, I received a refund check for the totality of my past donations to the company. Whether this was to amend a bookkeeping matter, “make things right,” or “cut the cord” with me professionally…whatever the case, it was much appreciated, and thank you. While my past donorship was rooted in their stated mission and direction of the company (and my predicted involvement as a board member), my mantra was never “pay it BACK,” but “pay it FORWARD.” Whatever the case, this large gesture alone speaks to a genuine need and desire for positive closure, which I welcome now, too.

With that point though, I do ask all to take note. Not just TheatreLAB, but all young artists beginning their own theatre projects. It may not seem as much, but it’s easy to take for granted such matters as “misappropriation of funds” or “commingling” of funds, especially if funds are solicited for a certain cause or with a certain professional trajectory in mind. With so many people out there starting companies, Kickstarter campaigns and the like, we can take for granted that we have entered into a contract of sorts when rallying for and accepting donated funds under certain pretenses. But, in Annie and Deejay’s mutual cases, they indeed did the right thing in returning said donated funds back to me.

TheatreLAB indeed has the potential to be a thriving, positive force in the community, and I wish it and its people all the best at this point. There are many lovely people involved, some of which have even made moves to this town seeking participation with the company, and who deserve a chance for their gifts and skills to be seen in this company setting without scrutiny.

And regardless of any variable professional history, I will also happily volunteer that many of the main players of this company have been very near and dear to me during those shared professional chapters. I adored those people and still do. In fact, some parties presently or recently committed are some of my dearest friends. Make no mistake about that.

Let’s not belabor this too much longer. This needs to be wrapped up in all the right ways. Having done five projects with Mr. Gray and/or TheatreLAB, I do think I’m inclined to have a valid opinion though. I’ll only offer the following suggestions in loving kindness, for the benefit of one and all, and in pursuit of positive closure.

To you, Mr. Gray: You are indeed a giftedly charismatic figure, and it makes sense that you have the social media following that you have. From now on, I would just rhetorically ask you – one artist to another – to please remember (for your sake as much as anyone’s) that social media is accountable. While it may not seem this way in the realm of “Richmond theatre fandom,” social media is often still a major catalyst for whether or not people are actually hired for jobs, whether they get the grant, solicit quality colleagues…or, in your case, how they are generally perceived as a leadership figure or (theatre) educator. Is such a concern mine or anyone else’s “business,” just one person to another? No, not necessarily. But when another responsible party is backing you up – particularly one with plenty to lose - advocating, possibly assuming liability as a board member…absolutely, it is. It really IS their business. Just remember that, if you will. While you and your young artist colleagues are still learning, it’s just a little different for those that are older and therefore more established and world-weary on such matters. No matter how you cut it, they’re going to be “concerned,” you know?

And while you’re at it…as you embark on what I hope is a wonderful journey for you and your company members, just make sure you’re not being “takers” about the matter, okay? I don’t need to get into specifics or rake anyone over the coals publicly at this point based on my experiences. But just make sure you’re not creating a situation in which an otherwise exciting idea requires the others involved to have to give at a level that unreasonably surpasses any previously communicated expectation. And remember that the help you’re given – the venues and spaces, the raw materials, funds, opportunities – are all a gift. Please don’t squander them. Be thankful for them, grateful, appreciative – not just in a Facebook post with everyone tagged, but in your actions…with a commitment to quality and professionalism that shows how much you value what’s been given.

And no more “errors of omission,” mister! ☺
Remember - people sharing the burden and liability with you on behalf of your “dream” have a right to know the WHOLE story. People are going to feel betrayed if they’re not given the truth that they're entitled to...the truth that affects them, too. All right?

As for you, Annie…you are a very good woman, and the praise you openly receive is easily understood. You’re a very sophisticated, cultured young lady with an enviable upbringing, education, and very gourmet palette in all you do. Deejay is blessed to have you at his side, and thankfully…he seems to say as much in kind.

Honey, you don’t have to apologize for “having a glass of wine.” After all you’re juggling in the work place and your LAB career…you probably need two, or three. Have at it! ☺

So long as the climate of your potential-rich young artist company remains more in the realm of “young professionals” and not of something more reckless (or something that’s not a good fit for your “educational outreach” and “internship” manifesto), nobody can touch you and you have nothing to apologize for. I offer this suggestion from a BUSINESS perspective, okay? Just be mindful (for your OWN sake even) about how much you document all of the “good times-ness” (for lack of better words) of you all’s collective group. You’re young, and you SHOULD be having a good time. Only people have to know that you’re also truly serious about the company. If it looks like the priorities of the group are more about offstage fun based on social media documentation, it just tends to sting a little bit when seeing requests for last minute help from the community for items and tasks that might have been taken care of sooner. I’m sure you understand.

As for damage control, I do have to remind you both though - and only from a place of wisdom and not from condemnation – you really can’t keep people from telling the truth about their experiences with you. And neither can I. I mean…the truth is the truth. And if someone has had a bad experience with you and is inclined to tell or warn others, and especially if they feel like past relayed concerns have fallen on deaf ears…please know that I don’t mean to sound cruel, but that really is kind of the business that you’re in. It’s merely accountability, and the best way to “control” it is just to make sure that you’re running your enterprise in integrity.

Kelsey, you are a dynamite young performer and a splendid young lady who makes this whole community proud. I appreciate your directness, dear. And I do understand both your urgency in wanting to reach out to me, as well as the frustration via my intermittent Facebook hiatuses and blocks. I do hope you understand though - not trying to be cruel, I promise – but there was nothing I ever said about this situation that was untrue or that I couldn’t back up with documentation or testimony. There just wasn’t, honey. Now, rumor mills or others’ motives may have carried some concern I voiced away into fictitious territory. (And I’m still not sure what others’ personal grievances are, such as Lynn’s or Mr. Bowden’s.) On the other hand, I’m with you in the fact that this series of threads here has gotten very ugly indeed, and I’m secretly hoping that some Style webmaster will have the heart to clean the place up, for everyone’s sake.

I don’t think I’m alone here given the proximity of “likes” historically on some of these comments…but unfortunately – and I don’t mean to sound combative – but I DO say Deejay deserves some of the herein referenced negative publicity. Again, there was nothing I said or warned anyone about that I didn’t experience first hand, or that I didn’t have evidence to support. I’m all too aware of professional privileges that he has abused in the past and trespasses made upon others.

However, I think all involved (including myself) have an understanding here that they didn’t before. Certainly we all make mistakes – some larger than others – and I presume the eternal truth still applies that the value in a mistake is the learning that comes with it, and that applies to me as much as anyone. I don’t know about Mr. Bowden or Lynn, but I’m happy to release this matter entirely now and leave it in the past where it belongs.

Let’s all launch into this new year wiser, freer, and willing to apply all that we’ve learned and make this our best year yet…for Richmond theatre and otherwise. It’s utterly possible.

To Deejay, Annie, and all involved at TheatreLAB, best wishes on the rest of your exciting season.

(And thank you, Tammy, for your support as always.) :)

157 likes, 32 dislikes
Posted by Stephen Ryan on 01/03/2014 at 1:27 PM

Re: “Deejay Gray, 25


I am Stephen Ryan, a Richmond, VA actor who was once heavily involved with TheatreLAB and its related people. I am inclined to shed some light on the subject here in a way that I think will be conclusive and (hopefully) healing for all involved, including TheatreLAB's staff and supporters, and will do so momentarily.

Just to clarify though, for those who may be suspecting it, I am most certainly NOT (!) the "James Bowden" in question above. However, I don't mind saying that I am indeed the person of whom Mr. Hester speaks above though - the one who expressed concerns to him roughly 6 months ago or so. (I’m happy to say that openly here, simply because it’s true. And I happen to be an advocate of TRUTH in this and all such situations…nothing more, nothing less. Also, I do want to mention this early on simply because one poster’s handle “Stephen, is that you?” suggests that “Bowden” and perhaps myself are one and the same.) However, being a person of social media accountability myself, and the awareness that comments are traceable via IP addresses and computers if need be, and are essentially there “forever” whether we “delete” them or not…these variables are exactly the reason that I DON’T subscribe to making anonymous or identity-skewed comments online or in social media.

For the record, I have no idea who “James Bowden” is anymore than others here seem to. While the poster using that moniker claims to be highly involved with the Richmond theatre community or at least know “insider’s details,” I don’t recognize that name myself at all. And while I could be mistaken – and no disrespect intended if Mr. Bowden is a legitimate Richmond community member - I don’t know of anyone else who (at least up to this point) recognizes it either.

Whatever the case…I do know that - regardless of commentaries that I feel I have rightfully offered based on my own experiences with this company and those in charge of it, and my ability to back them up with full documentation or testimony – I don’t want more discord in the theatre community than any other forward-thinking, theatre-loving community member would. Even if I have disagreed with past professional behaviors of critically involved members, I will certainly agree with Annie Colpitts’ sentiments that encourage parties to avoid "spreading poison/vitriol" and “move on with their lives.” I want that for myself, and all involved...but with clarity.

I will make an ensuing statement here presently that will hopefully lend that clarity. Just give me a chance to write it, please. I think all will make sense hereafter.

Just again, PLEASE (!), no more vitriol or heated banter or conflict before I can do so.

PS – and thank you, Kim Jones Clark! ☺

154 likes, 28 dislikes
Posted by Stephen Ryan on 01/02/2014 at 9:33 PM

Re: “Amy Wight, 37

How wonderful! Amy is a lovely person, and a very fine, seasoned theatre producer. Her work as such with Firehouse Theatre Project was deserving of this accolade for years. So glad she's finally received it. Congrats, Amy!

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Stephen Ryan on 10/15/2013 at 8:04 PM

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