Dean Gladden, managing director of the Alley Theatre, issued a surprising statement just now, apologizing to the Alley staff, the theater's patrons, the press (wow!), donors and to the entire city for how it has handled news information about the recent departure of Artistic Director Gregory Boyd.
Whether this is an attempt to get out ahead of further accusations about treatment of female actors at the Alley or a heartfelt realization that the Alley has pretty much bungled the public's trust by insisting that it just happened that Boyd decided to retire, is, of course, subject to conjecture.
But it is refreshing that the Alley is acknowledging it needs to adopt new tactics in dealing with both public perception and much more importantly, how Alley staff are being treated and whether what has been described as a toxic environment there is allowed to continue.
The action follows statements from actresses and other theater personnel reported throughout the Houston media that Boyd was both a bully and someone who made unwanted sexual advances.
Here is his statement:
"On behalf of the Alley Theatre, we apologize for recent events and the actions that led to these news stories.
"Long-time Alley Artistic Director, Gregory Boyd, had been discussing retirement options with members of the Board of Directors. When the Alley Theatre Board Leadership learned of the depth of staff concerns regarding his behavior, they requested he proceed with his retirement. Part of the negotiated retirement contract included a severance payment and an immediate departure from his post.
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"We recognize that this lack of transparency has been viewed negatively. We should have handled it differently. We apologize to those impacted, the Alley staff, patrons, donors, press, and to the city of Houston.
"Moving the Alley Theatre forward is our primary goal. To that end, Walker Consulting Group has been selected by the Alley. The consultant will provide input to management and the Board-led Work Environment and Governance Committee to assess the workplace and make recommendations for change. Robbin Walker has been in the training and development field for over 30 years and has consulted for Target Stores at their Minneapolis headquarters, facilitated for Theatre Communications Group, and worked with major theatres across the county. Robbin begins meeting with the staff at all levels this Monday, January 29. We look forward to her findings and changes to be implemented.
"We vow to move forward in ensuring a healthy work environment and the Alley Theatre will continue to bring quality productions to Houston audiences in a new era."