Looking behind the scenes

In reply to your front page story, “Battle Over Malibu Stage Co.,” first let me clarify a few points. As a founding member, I have first-hand knowledge of the theatre’s 10-year history. Your article quotes defecting board members as stating there have been “four or five boards.” There have been two boards! A small interim group of neutral members remained in place until the last board was formed.

Some members of the current board have chosen to publicly announce their resignations in terms that can only be perceived as an act of malice. Unfortunately, these abdicators, with less than two years in office, displayed little experience in the operation of a theatre, fund-raising or public relations. They were uninformed about production budgets and the logistics of staging a full-fledged theatrical season. To my knowledge. they did no homework on how other little theatres operated. Still they authorized Artistic Director Charles Marowitz to proceed with a season of four plays.

When they received his budget of $150,000, they panicked. Abruptly, without negotiating with the artistic director, these members refused to proceed further. Needless to say, the temperamental director was greatly distressed over their sudden decision to abandon the season after weeks spent on preproduction preparations, option commitments and an enormous amount of energy and time on our inaugural season. Job opportunities were turned aside due to his schedule for MSC.

I wasn’t present when the board “cut him off at the knees” but I can imagine they received the full fury of his artistic temper and his frustration. From that point the insulted and peevish members petitioned the city Council, I believe, to hold up any funds allocated to the theatre until our books were thoroughly investigated. This was done at a cost to the company of $4,000. Nothing untoward was found – $350 for year’s business lunches, dubious long distance phone calls and an unauthorized MSC web site. All monies were easily accounted for in the conversion of the old church and our monthly rental of $1,500. Incidentally, in 10 years, Marowitz never received a salary.

Since that pivotal incident those deeply offended board members spent their entire tenure seeking to fire the man who had so insulted them. But, unable to accomplish that end (with the help of legal counsel), they reluctantly voted to proceed with two productions of his, which I produced. At no time did these board members in question offer assistance or encouragement, but instead obstructed those productions with what I perceived as extreme malice. These key members refused to buy seats or help sell seats. Contrary to how these members labeled me., I was not Charles Marowitz’s advocate. My only goal was to keep the darkened theatre alive with professional productions. I m passionately dedicated to the theatre I helped build. This group’s actions have kept the theatre dark – not the artistic director’s behavior.

With vindictiveness, lack of theatre experience and support, these few people heedlessly caused the new-born theatre to suffer deprivation and disgrace because of their single-minded dislike of the theatre’s founder.

Is it just or sensible to harm the child because you are at war with its father?

Jacqueline Bridgeman

President Emeritus, Malibu Stage Co.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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