Friday, July 24, 2009

schnabel: "that company is dead"

lighting designer and former skylight production manager kurt schnabel has withdrawn from lighting both "the barber of seville" and "the marriage of figaro" for the skylight opera theatre's 50th anniversary season.
July 23, 2009

Eric Dillner
Skylight Opera Theatre
158 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Mr. Dillner,

It is with much regret that I must withdraw from lighting the Skylight’s productions of The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. I believe that the artistic integrity of the company has been jeopardized, and I disagree with the way in which the administration level is being managed. And I cannot, in good conscience, work for an arts organization that treats artists in the way I have witnessed over the past month.

I am very sorry that I will not be able to return to the company where I feel I’ve had a home for the past 10 years. But that company is dead. It was the people and artistic product which made the Skylight unique, which made it strong, and which made it successful. Now, those people are either gone or demoralized, and the artistic product is in question.

As of this writing, I have not been contacted by anyone on either the artistic or administrative side of the Skylight to tell me of the recent events which so heavily impact the production of the two operas I was scheduled to work on. I heard about the firing of Artistic Director Bill Theisen, his agreement to continue directing the operas in spite of being let go, the dismissal of cast members, and the Mr. Theisen’s ultimate decision to not return all through third-party channels or through the media. As a guest artist, this is infuriating and quite disrespectful. It shows clearly that the Skylight has no concern for the people who work directly on each project, and who thereby have control over the final product which is created by the company. This is the product that the Skylight makes and sells to the public. If there is no concern for fostering an environment where the best product can be put on the market, then what is the point of producing this work?

I was the Production Manager at the Skylight for four years. I know first hand that the greatest asset to the company was the people who worked there. It would do well for the current administration to remember that teamwork and trust are the key elements that made the Skylight successful.

Sincerely,

Kurt Schnabel

2 comments:

  1. Melanie SchuesslerJuly 24, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    Nicely done, Kurt! Thanks for standing up against this fiasco.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There's a statement here worth pointing out that really illustrates another example of MD's mismanagement.

    "As of this writing, I have not been contacted by anyone on either the artistic or administrative side of the Skylight to tell me of the recent events which so heavily impact the production of the two operas I was scheduled to work on."

    If it weren't for blogs and other social media, many of us would unaware of what's happening at the Skylight and the board and Eric might have gotten away with it.

    ReplyDelete

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