By Larry Murray
For more than a week, the board and management of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox have evaded every question about the sudden departure of artistic director Tony Simotes. It has also refused to give any indication of whether this signals a major reorganization of the theatre company, and just who is going to be next on the chopping block. The order to be silent has reverberated throughout the company and many of the founders and long-term members fear that if they open their mouth, they will lose their jobs. It seems that heads are going to roll soon, and that worries me as a veteran theater watcher who has a great love for this venerable company of actors.
Secrecy and stonewalling are a familiar form of corporate politics. Whether white collar workers or actors, using these sorts of wily tactics always backfires, and has already began to erode the company’s years of reputation and audience building.
Oddly, Shakespeare & Company chose to release the news of Simotes departure with hints of more changes to come in an after-hours news release (original story) late on a Friday night. They probably expected that few would print the news, or – most importantly – that few would notice that the popular Simotes was being unceremoniously ushered out months before his contract ends despite promises to the contrary. There were few details, just the usual meaningless niceties that accompany such corporate beheadings. My own attempts to glean more information were rebuffed even when such attempts were done using personal email rather than official ShakesCo email address which were undoubtedly being monitored for leaks.