Last month, it was announced that Patrick Dorow, the Founder and Artistic Director of Patrick Dorow Productions(PDP), had been unanimously fired from his position. While it's not uncommon that theatre leaders are fired, it's rare that the namesake of the organization is the one getting the boot. It's also even more rare that the company keeps their name on the marquee afterward.
But that's exactly what's happening in Portsmouth, NH at PDP. And the mystery swirling around its founder's departure has some in the community asking if more information should be provided.
Truth be told, I've never been to a show at PDP. However, I've been told by some that they have been producing some of the strongest shows in the entire state of New Hampshire. A lot of the credit for that goes to Dorow himself, who founded the company in 2011.
However, in June, Dorow was fired by the very board he helped create, by a unanimous vote, 9-0. But why he was fired is the mystery. While not much is known, what has been said, is problematic.
In an interview with Seacoastonline.com , Board President George Carlisle stated it was “a personnel matter, which we do not comment on.”
But it's what Carlisle said next that has everyone asking more. According to the interview, "Carlisle added, putting himself “in the shoes of a parent,” the matter does not involve underage children."
First of all, that's a good thing. I'm glad the issue, apparently, doesn't involve children. I also want to point out that it's commendable that the PDP board would take such swift action. I'm sure it wasn't easy to fire the founder of their company. But it's peculiar that Carlisle chose to use those words. While the issue doesn't involve children, does it involved adult members of the theatre group? Underage teens? If Carlisle so willingly stated it didn't involve children, why did he stop there?
Also, keep in mind, there doesn't seem to be any legal policy that would prevent PDP from stating why Dorow was fired, they just don't want to. And that's where my issue lies.
If an incident was so severe that it caused the swift and unanimous removal of the founder and executive director of a theatre company, it should be made public. I'm not going to suggest what happened or didn't happen, but to me, what PDP is essentially doing is trying to sweep whatever he did, under the rug. And before anyone says that "this is no one's business" or "it's a private matter". I would usually agree except that this involves a company, it's executive director that relies on the public for funding and participation. They deserve to know.
That's not fair to their theatre community, potential victims or those in the public who patron the theatre. Why should they continue to pay money to support a theatre company that could be potentially trying to hide some very glaring issues as a result of its past leader's behavior?
I won't get hung up on them keeping Dorow's name on the company. Legal matter when it comes to companies can get complicated and I'm sure Dorow's name isn't going to be attached longer than it has to be.
If PDP truly wants to turn the page, they need to state what happened that led to Dorow's firing. It encourages honesty and will surely put some minds at rest since I've received about a dozen emails from various people regarding the issue.
But by staying silent and trying to go on as "business as usual" has been proven to be a fatal mistake. Theatre is built on trust and PDP needs to be honest with those on their stage and in their audience.