Anonymous Complaint Thwarts Initiative for Women Directors

News   Anonymous Complaint Thwarts Initiative for Women Directors
A Raleigh resident complained the project was discriminatory and a violation of the city’s policy.
Women’s Theatre Festival
Women’s Theatre Festival

According to Indy Week, a weekly newspaper published in Durham, NC, an initiative aimed at giving more work to female directors was recently derailed by an anonymous Raleigh resident going by the name of Matthew Davis.

As reported in Indy Week, nine theatre companies in Raleigh, Durham, and Sanford came together in the wake of the election and agreed to hire women to direct any 2017-18 season productions that their organizations had not already assigned. Davis, who used the email account, reached out to the Office of Raleigh Arts with the allegation that the new initiative violated the city’s nondiscrimination policy.

Davis’ complaint stated that “because of my gender, I will not have an opportunity to direct one of [Justice Theater Project]’s shows in the coming year. ... This is not what we should be doing as a community. It is wrong. We are not this.” It also included a request that all city funds to the Justice Theater Project—one of the nine theatres who joined the alliance—be withheld.

The day after Davis’ complaint, the Justice Theater Project had said it was withdrawing from the alliance. “Since we have a woman artistic director who directs most of our shows, it was very easy for us to say yes to the alliance, but we already had men lined up to direct some key shows,” managing director Melissa Zeph told Indy Week. “Upon reflection, we don’t feel comfortable with the wording of the alliance’s initial missive. It was never our intent to discriminate against any entity.”

The companies that signed onto the agreement, including the Justice Theater Project, were Burning Coal Theatre Company, Black Ops Theatre Company, Honest Pint Theatre, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre, Sonorous Road Productions, Temple Theatre, and the Women’s Theatre Festival.

Indy Week reports that it is looking into the identity of Matthew Davis, as the gmail account has now been deleted.

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