Tuesday, July 21, 2009

lueck quits: "i cannot ethically bring
students to the current skylight"

when the educators are jumping ship, something is happening. tommy lueck, a member of the skylight education advisory board, joins the chorus and sends his letter of resignation:
Dear Current Skylight Board,

It is with full conscience that I resign my position on the Skylight Education Advisory Board. Although the experiences in the past have been ones that I have considered worthwhile, I can no longer promote the direction in which I feel the Skylight is moving artistically. Having a full career in Fine Arts Education, and holding a philosophy that embraces both the product and the process of creative artistry, I do not see unity with the system of beliefs or action of the current Skylight administration or Board. I can not feel, with clear conscience, that I can ethically bring students to the current Skylight knowing that the productions there are the result of such inappropriate and disrespectful action toward artists. Serving as an advocate for Arts Education means holding true to the belief that there is integrity for the artist who is faithful and doesn't succumb to the games and trappings of an abrasive world. There are clearly other worthy and less dissonant choices for them.

I sent you prior notices and letters of concern, and none of them were directly answered. I will not repeat the content of those statements. You may choose to research them; perhaps you might provide them to the FULL board. Clearly, however, you have enough work to do.

You may wish to know that other educators and students are well-aware of the current Skylight cannibalism. As Sondheim writes in his work INTO THE WOODS,"Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see, and learn."

I would remind you of the important duty you have in this regard, and what great opportunity you may not realize while your actions do not match your mission.

L. Thomas Lueck
Fine Arts Educator


  1. This letter is brilliantly stated. It is my deepest hope that the result of this disaster will be reversed, especially for the children who once aspired to be performers on the Cabot Stage.

  2. Good for you Tommy -- well stated.

  3. In response to an inquiry of mine about the recent developments at Skylight, one of my peers who has significant ties to the Skylight said the following:

    "I've been following it all. So glad to be leaving this city."

    What a sad time for Milwaukee.


  4. Tommy,
    My friend. Well stated. What is the future of the Sklight are the students of today. And they are witnessing chaos.

  5. You are giving your kids a wonderful civics lesson. One that will give them courage when they need to stand up to injustice. Bravo, my friend. (PS - thanks for the analogy, I'm quite flattered!)

  6. Tommy - WOW - I am overhelmed - amazingly brilliant, well said and so accurate - and I also know of students who very aware and acting on their beliefs by sending letters and asking thier families to cancel subscriptions - thank you for being such an amazing educator! Your students are lucky to have you!

  7. You all need to get over it.

  8. Skylight is the only game in town and someone has stolen the ball. Steal it back. You can't do that by quitting and writing poorly worded, overly dramatic missives.

  9. Oh, and BTW, Tommy who?

  10. Please, whoever 'anonymous' is, if you are going to say trite, snotty things, have the balls to state your real name. If not, shut the f up. You obviously have no idea what this is about. Watch me, I have no problem publishing my name. Now, YOU get over it.

    Tommy, kudos to you on your decision. Your kids have a great teacher.

  11. folks. let's keep it civil.

    i encourage anonymous comments.

    i think the comment about stealing the ball back is worth talking a look at, and the fact that a reader doesn't get all these "overly dramatic missives" is fair. if i weren't so directly involved, i might not get it either.

    and anon, tommy lueck is a big part of this community and has been for years. lots of theatre-goers in milwaukee know him quite well, and certainly tons of students know him.

    the fact that you don't know him doesn't make his opinion or "dramatic missive" worth mocking...

  12. I agree that we should encourage anonymous comments too, but when someone comments anonymously they should still feel the power of conscience not to be snotty, trite, rude, unthoughtful, cowardly, vindictive, etc. Otherwise there is no value or redeemable content in their point of view.

  13. SteveLangeneckerJuly 22, 2009 at 1:12 AM

    There is nothing that is poorly worded or overly dramatic about Tommy's letter or any of the other resignations submitted thus far. As the previous anonymous person said these statements were well thought out and filled with a power of conscience and responsibility toward his students. What is dramatic, in the pure sense, is this overwhelming spiral of events that certainly will take more than the other anonymous' dismissive opinion and simple directive to "get over it". When someone takes the time to contribute his or her thoughts and feelings, we owe them respect and we should respond to them as if they were standing in front of us. If blogs and commenting online are to have any enduring value they need to retain the same value system that is required when folks are sitting around a table. Then again, the previous anonymous may not be someone with whom I would enjoy sharing dinner.

  14. as a student hoping to have a career in this business, i've witnessed greatness on the skylight stage (the last 5 years, tintypes, la boheme, the producers, midnight angel, and souvenir) it pains me that when i take the theater out and about experience class this semester, that i have to be absent twice, maybe three times from class in protest of this organization. and i'm a very good student and i do not enjoy missing class unless i have to. all of this news of people being fired or quitting is very disheartening to one who hasn't even started yet (though i fully support those who resigned, and think the firing of others was unnecessary, childish, and ridiculous) why does it have to be like this? do these people not remember high school sayings of "keep the drama on stage"? the skylight (praised for its glorious education and outreach program) is losing its coordinators?! please fix this problem so the students of theater in milwaukee have role models to look up to, a theater to visit/learn from, and a place to get our start some day!!! the actions taken by the skylight are effecting the students, and that is WRONG!!!!

  15. There is more than one "anonymous" here. That said, my comment about "poorly worded, overly dramatic missives" was not "snotty" or "trite" or "vindictive" as has been described here. Sentiment aside, and with all due respect, re-read some of this stuff. And note to Donia: It's people like you that make remarks like yours that makes people like me stay in the safety of being anonymous. Anyway, there just seems to be an awful lot of editorial comment and no action. I no longer live in Milwaukee, but I had been a performer at the Skylight on and off since the arrival of Colin Cabot. I have witnessed the comings and goings of "artisitic" directors and their friends many times. Remember "The Mikado" with the boxes? Yikes, what a mess. One thing that didn't happen in those years - the locals didn't quit. You cannot possibly change an organization from the outside. Get back in, infiltrate. Quitting can be very dramatic. Quitting also means that you have surrendered any influence you may have had. The ball has been stolen, steal it back.

  16. To anon:

    I think the fact that the locals are quitting is a huge indication that this is less a struggle over an artistic ideal (yes, we all remember the Mikado boxes) and more a question of ethics. When an outsider steals away a company that has used the community as its greatest resource, the community has no choice but to walk out. Change from the inside was attempted but deflected. I certainly tried to change things from the inside before being fired. I would still be there now, trying to do the work, had I not been removed.

  17. To anon:

    You have a good point about working from the inside. In this case, it's hard to imagine how somebody could still work with the Skylight and not, by association, seem to condone their actions. That is clearly the mindset of the 23 people who have resigned so far. Some institutions are so toxic that your only choice is to leave.

    Your better point is to steal the ball back. In this case, I think that means starting a whole new theater group. I really liked some of the earlier possible names: "The artists formerly known as the Skylight" or "The Streetlight" (if the performances are outside).

  18. SteveLangeneckerJuly 22, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    Anonymous, you could have signed this one with your name. Much more thoughtfully written this time. But I need to ask what/who are you trying to stay safe from? Even Donia couldn't really hurt you with her words, could she?

    Quitting the Skylight, in this instance, is not surrendering. It is not editorial comment, it IS action. Staying on under the existing conditions would be truly surrendering--one's values, one's beliefs, one's commitment to excellence, integrity, etc.

    I remember those Mikado boxes and other choices that maybe didn't turn out so well. But those were artistic choices affecting only one show. The management choices the leadership of the Skylight has been making recently are affecting the ENTIRE 50th season. They are destroying the morale of artists and employees. Community goodwill is evaporating. Dillner's and Hefty's poor choices are having an all-inclusive, negative effect on EVERYTHING Skylight.

    You should trust that Bill, Pam, Colin, Richard Tommy, Leslie, Becky, and others had seriously considered what options they had to try and work with this current management. After the petty firings of two actors, they decided they could not. They are not surrendering at all. They are fighting back using powerful weapons of leverage including: the influence of their actions on others who trust and respect them and, the withdrawal of their talents which will now have to be replaced at short notice and higher cost. Also, fallout from these resignations will seriously damage the (current) Skylight because bad PR in a bad economy will ensure less income due to fewer donations, fewer volunteers, fewer tickets and subscriptions sold. The hemoraging of the Skylight's resources has now been intensified. Leadership must stop the bleeding now or risk going into further shock. Unless they are all masochists, which it appears, could be the case here.

    Could there be any opportunity for positive change without these ACTIONS?

    Anonymous, now that you have shared that you are an actor who has worked at the Skylight, I am hopeful that next time you can sign your own name. To let you know about me, I worked at the Skylight in PR, Marketing, and Education. I also did one show at the Skylight. Now I am a ticket buyer and a hopeful believer that the actions, as well as words, of these people will effect something good for the future of the Skylight.

  19. Good for you, Mr. Lueck. You are truly a wonderful role model. It's nice to know we have ethical, honest people in this community who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. I am, as all should be, extremely greatful that there are forces such as yourself, Molly, and the countless other ex-employees at work in this community.

    Hopefully, the unjust, egocentric, shameful actions of the Skylight will be rectified. If this does indeed occur, we will have you all to thank.


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