Black and White?
Was the firing of Delaware Theatre Company’s artistic director motivated by a controversial play, or was it something else?
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n May 27 Anne Marie Cammarato ran into David Ledford, executive editor of The News Journal, at Harry’s Seafood Grill in Wilmington. Ledford was a fan of Cammarato’s original play “10 Months: The Wilmington Voices Project,” and was considering publishing a follow-up story. Ledford’s story never happened—the day after that meeting, Cammarato was fired.
“It was so ironic,” says Cammarato, who served for six seasons as DTC’s artistic director. “Here was this critically acclaimed show, and David was talking about how the paper might continue the dialogue it started. Then it was over.”
Michael Marquardt, chair of the DTC board, acknowledges that Cammarato was given no warning prior to her termination. Her final performance review in December, in fact, was stellar.
The board points to declining ticket sales as a reason for Cammarato’s dismissal—though roller coaster sales are part of the business. Many of her shows sold poorly, as have those chosen by previous artistic directors. Yet the board supported Cammarato throughout her tenure and encouraged her to produce controversial work.
“One of the things I always gave Anne Marie credit for was that she came in with her vision and she stuck by it,” says Marquardt. “And we stuck by her.”
Such support is the reason Cammarato remains nonplussed. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye. As “10 Months” challenged its audience, the story of her firing is challenging its players to confront the truth.
Numbers don’t lie. Cammarato’s stats at DTC weren’t so hot. From 2004, when she joined DTC, through her final season, earned revenue dropped 27 percent. Over the past five years, the theater sold an average of 1,676 tickets per show. “Ten Months” sold 437.
Subscribers are the lifeblood of a theater, the patrons who stand by it in recession and in wealth. During Cammarato’s tenure, subscription tickets sold went from 18,417 in 2004 to 8,373 in 2010, a drop of 54 percent.
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