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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Cammarato doesn’t know if “10 Months” and the controversy surrounding it was the last straw. Coker thinks it was.
“I think her firing had racial overtones,” Coker says. “I don’t want to blame the board, but I wish I could help them understand that Anne Marie wasn’t just building an audience. She was building a diverse audience.”
Diversity has historically been the theater’s strength, says Marquardt. “We have to be responsive and attractive to a broad spectrum of the area’s arts-loving population to be successful.”
But Coker no longer feels included in that broad spectrum. “If I were younger, I would have boycotted DTC,” she says. “I would have assumed it really didn’t want us in the theater.”
People are “generally uncomfortable talking about the implications of race, class, power, politics and genocide,” says Jones Avery. “But silence is an assassin. I had hoped to keep the conversation (in this show) going, because courageous conversations build bridges of understanding.”
Syer agrees. “Even in 1998, when I came to DTC, I know there were a lot of people in the Wilmington leadership echelon that did not want to look racial issues squarely in the face,” she says. “ Until a community does that and accepts realities for what they are, the racial questions continue to fester.”
“Ten Months” may have been more successful had it been marketed to a larger demographic.
“I’ve always admitted that the organization, every one of us—that includes me—did not get out to sell ‘10 Months’ to the right audiences,” says Cammarato. “But when it comes right down to it, the mechanics of selling tickets to the theater was not in my job description.”
Marquardt admits that “‘10 Months,’ by itself, was a manifestation of the end in an extreme and unfair way.”
But there’s a subplot. “Ten Months” may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but Cammarato’s people skills may have brought her curtain down.
Former employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say that Cammarato is a micromanager whose controlling nature stifles creative growth.
Yet Cammarato earned raves, as well. Jeremy Skidmore, who directed the DTC production of “My Name is Asher Lev,” says “Anne Marie’s leadership and constant presence with her staff attracts, inspires and retains employees and collaborators.”
Three days before being fired, she says, Cammarato talked with Marquardt about her strategic vision for the next five years. Marquardt denies that, insisting that the two discussed her long-term vision during her December 2009 performance review.
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