Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Actor Fired After Escorting Homophobic Heckler from CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF Performance

From Broadway World:

During a performance of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at Repertory East Playhouse in Santa Clara, Calif., actor John Lacy, who was playing 'Big Daddy' in the production of the Tennessee Williams' play, jumped down from the stage and physically removed a heckler who had been yelling anti-gay slurs from the audience.

Lacy was fired on Saturday, May 31, following the incident; fellow lead actor Anton Troy resigned in solidarity with his co-star.

"I will not support homophobia or an establishment that doesn't support its talent," Troy wrote on Facebook.

"Hate in any form is not something I choose to subscribe to. John is a seasoned professional and an honorable man. It should never escalate to a point where the talent has to handle an unruly drunk in the audience themselves regardless of the outcome. Producers dropped the ball, the fish stinks from the head on down."

More here

According to comments on the facebook page of the actor who quit in solidarity, the heckling was going on for three or four scenes, which means that right away you know we're dealing with a totally incompetent house manager--any and all heckling is NOT to be tolerated; this shit's totally disruptive, messing with the actors, the audience, technicians, playwright, pretty much every single artist involved with mounting a show.  That is, the theater producing the show itself FAILED UTTERLY, and, in its inaction, actually aggravated the problem caused by the heckler in the first place.  And then the theater fired the wrong guy.  Actually, they fired a hero.

Sure, the guy is a hero, one of many, to the gay rights movement, but he's also a hero to the theater as an institution.  The Broadway World article gets quotes from a couple of dissenting cast members.  One of them was worried about the potential for this heckler being armed, and straight up accused Lacy of putting everybody in danger.  Well, that's a potential issue for dealing with any heckler.  What are you supposed to do, just let him disrupt the show?  Apparently, that's the call house management made, but whatever; it was bullshit.  I'd want my money back if I had to watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof while a homophobe was allowed to spew his vile dog vomit.  It no doubt undermined the entire experience--that is, the show was ruined, and something needed to be done.  Another cast member criticized Lacy's lack of professionalism, offering bland platitudes about taking audience criticism gracefully.  Another whatever.  When you buy a ticket, you're implicitly agreeing that you won't criticize the show DURING THE SHOW, loudly enough for everybody else to hear.  And, oh yeah, anti-gay slurs aren't criticism.  It's just hate speech, plain and simple.  John Lacy, like Alexander the Great, cut through this Gordian knot of high bullshit, and did what nobody else was willing to do.

That is, this actor showed more respect toward this production than pretty much anybody else in the room.  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is very much a play about struggling with gay identity and the mendacity often associated with that struggle.  And here we ended up with those two central themes being played out in real life, completely upstaging the performance itself.  Only Big Daddy, or rather, the actor playing him, seemed to understand that this jerk was rendering the entire work meaningless.  So he did the right thing.  And he was the only one willing to do so.

The "fourth wall" only exists as a convention enabling us to create great theater.  When it stops serving that purpose, indeed, when it serves to RUIN theater, you throw the damned thing out.  Needless to say, firing this man was a great injustice.  I only hope that if I ever find myself in similar circumstances, I have the balls to do what he did.