Har­lequin Pro­duc­tions is a de­ba­cle

The Olympian - - Opinion -

I am Bruce Whit­ney, for­mer mu­sic di­rec­tor for Har­lequin Pro­duc­tions, the lo­cal the­ater com­pany founded, de­vel­oped, and nur­tured by my brother, Scot, and his wife, Linda. I’m proud to have been part of a com­pany that suc­cess­fully raised the bar of artis­tic ex­cel­lence in the Olympia area for over 25 years. But the events of the past eight months have been be­wil­der­ingly in­ex­pli­ca­ble.

On March 16, the Seat­tle Times pub­lished a smear piece ini­ti­ated by two dis­grun­tled Har­lequin ex-em­ploy­ees, cash­ing in on the furor sur­round­ing the #MeToo move­ment. The Har­lequin board’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, led by pres­i­dent Ben Cush­man, pan­icked. Rather than meet­ing with Scot and Linda to re­view the facts and work out a so­lu­tion, they im­me­di­ately chose to pan­der to the so­cial me­dia mob by em­brac­ing the vil­i­fy­ing, con­text-free story. Scot and Linda were sum­mar­ily re­moved from the board and barred from any meet­ings or com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Out­ra­geous.

From there the board would not, or could not, back down. Scot’s “res­ig­na­tion” fol­lowed, and now, months later, Linda, after be­ing marginal­ized and re­peat­edly ha­rassed, has been ter­mi­nated un­der vague and un­sup­ported al­le­ga­tions. No ev­i­dence, no re­course.

Many pa­trons, be­wil­dered by what’s hap­pened, have ex­pressed to me their shock, their con­cern for Scot and Linda, and have ques­tioned their own will­ing­ness to con­tinue sup­port­ing the the­ater. To be clear, I have noth­ing against the peo­ple who con­tinue to work for Har­lequin, but I am so thor­oughly dis­gusted, I will never set foot in that the­ater again.

– Bruce Whit­ney, Olympia

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