Monday, August 3, 2009

figaro vs. fargo: the times article

8:53 p.m. – i'm at a the joyce theater in nyc seeing pilobolus. but see if this link works...and discuss.

2:07 a.m. – someday soon we'll talk about how amazing the pilobolus performance was (especially darci wutz's former student and skylight opera alum andrew herro. stunning.)

tonight, i'd first like to publicly say to all the good folks who don't actually live in wisconsin that the film "fargo" is set in minnesota. not milwaukee. (but you know, a jersey dialect sounds a lot like new york, too...)

that said, the comment section of this post – a post that was initially only one line, put up quickly from a cell phone to give readers a chance to vent – has covered some interesting ground.

but there's been no mention of this gem, from daniel wakin's new york time's article on the skylight opera theatre saga (my emphasis):
Mr. Dillner said he respected Mr. Theisen’s directing abilities tremendously and suggested that the local performers were upset because without Mr. Theisen, they wrongly feared losing opportunities at the Skylight. At the same time, he said, at least one person pulled out of an audition because disgruntled performers threatened to ostracize him. Mr. Dillner said the performer declined to be named.
local actors were worried that without bill theisen they might never work at the skylight again?

please. discuss.


  1. was this the link you meant?

  2. Lookit that great photo of Dilly in his big, empty theater.


  3. Please post the photo that goes with this article as your next "caption me" contest. Dillner and all his supporters..........(insert cricket sound)

  4. Yes, the photo of Eric and all his supporters should be Angela Johnstad's next project!

    And the 10 day plan? The 10 days are up. So how about we hear the 30 day plan and the cast list for Figaro? Both things we were promised 11 days ago.

    Oh, and I thought Dillner was going to come tou our breakfast meetings. That was short lived.

    Promises, promises...

  5. Termites? Yet they just installed new tile flooring and carpeting in the first and second floors this summer and can't afford to fight the Termites? Every time Dillner opens his mouth this gets more bazaar.

  6. I fear they're doing exactly what they set out to do. They are waiting the furor out. And sure enough, reporting on the event is leaking away. It's not that I blame those people who were keeping on top of the event, that's a hard thing to keep up. And the papers are no help. Who is left to do that job anymore? We are in danger of losing the war of attrition. Read that article and see the positive spin some of those speaking are trying to put on this affair. Frightening. That picture should be a rally cry,

  7. "Mr. Dillner has also brought in an outside public relations consultant."

    Hmm...I assume the NYTimes fact-checked this, but yet the rumors of such a thing have been dispelled (until now) by Dillner on several occasions. One such occasion was to The Journal Sentinel (Strini's Blog, 7/21/09):

    "Rumors about the Skylight management hiring a local public relations firm have been circulating among dissident performers. Those rumors are FALSE; both Dillner and a representative of the firm in question said that the firm is definitely NOT working for the opera company."

    Has Dillner changed his story on hiring outside PR to handle his disaster? I have never met the man, but every time he opens his mouth it seems to be one falsehood after another.

  8. The board obviously wants someone like this leading the organization. He seems to embody the lack of honesty, values and respect that half of the board possesses. So be it.

  9. 1. Most of us (certainly the local artists, and many of us "out of towners" began our association before Bill Theisen's tenure.

    2. I know you all. And if there is one constant in this, it has been your concern, care, and support for your comrades who CONTINUE to work at Skylight, or WILL continue to work at Skylight. The idea that you would "ostracize" your friends over this matter is utterly absurd.

  10. In the spirit of full disclosure and in response to Jamie's question, I did receive a note from both Eric Dillner and Terry Kurtenbach apologizing for not being able to attend last Friday's meeting (which they both sent to me prior to last Friday morning's breakfast).

  11. And aside from all the other more important issues at hand, I voice one small additional annoyance: Does anyone care the man once sang opera? How does being a "former opera singer" have any relevance to the disaster at the Skylight? Wow, he was once a house tenor at NYC opera? Yeah, I know several law clerk temps who can say the same, so what? What experience does he have as an administrator, and why do some on the board still support him? The cache of being an ex performer? I think not.

  12. Hope is on the horizon -- please hang on...

  13. Ditto,Feed the Beast. Don't give up.

  14. Sounds like Eric (not the Skylight) hired a PR rep to try to get some sympathetic press so that he can have some hope of a career when he moves on. Looks like a resignation is coming.

  15. Another item in the NY Times article that is puzzling: Mr. Dillner explicitly states that he ordered the firings of Mr. Lord and Mr. Stewart, but the dismissal letter bore the signature of ex-Board president Suzanne Hefty, who was not interviewed for the article. Other commentators have noted this. Has it ever been explained?

  16. Also: though the movie Fargo is set in Minnesota, it's actually in North Dakota. You're two states off, Mr. Wakin.

  17. When it gets down to it, we are all fighting personal battles. I am fighting for the Skylight (under Joan Lounsbery) that lifted me up in a very low time and told me what I had to offer was unique and valuable. That it continued to find me at low points and celebrate me (under three different administrations) was miraculous and special. That is what I am fighting for. I would never expect someone not personally involved to take up my battle. A few years ago, a good friend was harshly and rudely fired from a company from which I had just received a contract. He did not ask me to cancel it for him, as he knew this wasn't my battle to fight. Why would we expect others to take up our cause? It is risky at best, and could have repercussions at other companies. If there is someone bullying other artists, I would like them to email me personally and we can have a civil discussion about your reasons; otherwise, please, PLEASE, Skylight Board and Mr. Dillner, please stop dragging our good names and reputations through the mud and painting us as violent bullies. We are simply principled performers.

  18. It's been frustrating to see how easy it can be to spin things a certain way. That's why I'm grateful to you, Tony, and to Jonathon West, Jamie and Tom Strini, for bringing the discussion back to relevant issues. To imply that performers were acting in their own self interests because they feared not getting work without Bill around stretches credibility to the breaking point. If the artists involved only cared about getting themselves work, they sure as hell would not have walked away from their jobs. Amazing deceit.

  19. 1. Doesn't a PR firm cost a lot of money? This decision was made to save money, and it has cost them soooooo much: money, good will, reputation, time, artists, etc. etc.
    2. To Fletch--it may seem like things have died down, but I personally guarantee, I will be at every performance I can attend with a picket sign and fliers. I will help Norman organize the troops to be a constant presence once these shows are up and running.

  20. I have two picket signs ready and waiting.

  21. I protest this debacle and have absolutely nothing to gain from Skylight (can't sing, dance and debatable as an actor.) ;-) I only wish for the proliferation of solid business practices and top-notch arts in my beloved city.

  22. This is my [like] button for becky.
    Rock on Lady! Our thoughts in NYC (and GA) are with ya'll.

  23. The thing that really galls me is this quote:

    “We pay these people every day to get up onstage and live drama for us,” he said. “How can we be surprised?”

    Apparently this whole debacle is not the fault of Mr. Dillner or the board, but a bunch of over-reacting drama queens. A few reminders for Mr. Dillner:

    1. Not all the protesters are Skylight performers. (I used to work in the box office. It was the lowest paying job I've ever had, and yet I'm still emotionally invested in the Skylight a decade and a half later. I might be a drama queen, but not because I was ever on stage!)

    2. Speaking out is not the same as speaking too much.

    3. Very little of what I've read on these blogs or heard in the coverage smacks of hyperbole or irrationality. In fact, it's been downright serene and sane.

    3. That kind of "it's just how actors are" attitude is condescending and arrogant.

    If he's looking for over-the-top behavior and drama-queen antics, Eric Dillner might want to examine his own habit of interpreting every comment against him as a physical threat.

  24. another ditto to:

    feed the beast ("Hope is on the horizon -- please hang on...") and rstarkey ("Ditto, Feed the Beast. Don't give up.")

  25. Robb - Well said.

    Neither was I an "artist" (well, except at mixing drinks of course!) with the Skylight. This has not stopped me from being vocal regarding the disaster instigated by Mr. Dillner. Am I a drama queen? Hmmmm ...... Princess, perhaps .......

    I've been gone from Skylight for nearly 5 years now yet my desire to see it continue as the unique organization it was born to be remains.

    Every single time I hear Dillner speak or read one of his quotes it is clear that he simply does not understand the history and concept of the Skylight.

    Knowing that Colin and Joan's offer to set things right again was declined by half the board makes me wonder if half the board has lost its collective mind.


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