UPDATE: Santa Clarita Actor Fired, Show Cancelled After Gay Slurs, Fight During Show
ORIGINALLY POSTED 2014-06-02 17:03:37 -0700
After an “unruly patron” shouted anti-gay remarks at performers during the show leading to a confrontation with a cast and audience member, the Repertory East Playhouse is canceling its run of Tennessee Williams’ drama “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” at its Newhall theater, officials said Monday.
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An altercation took place during a show Saturday, after an audience member yelled “fag” twice during key scenes in the two-act performance, said John Lacy, of Valencia, an actor who portrayed Big Daddy in the play.
Lacy’s character was about to deliver an important monologue to the character of Brick, played by Anton Troy, when the audience member yelled the slur in response to a question Lacy’s character asked Troy's.
“The second time, I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore,” Lacy said. “He was so loud and so invasive to our performance.”
Lacy walked off to the side of the stage and said, “Who said that?” according to Tim Sullivan, who was in the audience. The person who made the slurs then stood up and said, “I did.”
“I gave him a little shove to let him know I was there,” Lacy said, “and because of the alcohol, he went down pretty easily.”
Sullivan, who was sitting nearby, grabbed the man who was on the floor and ushered him into the lobby, Lacy said.
The actors restarted from the interruption and continued the show, Lacy said.
“As an audience member and a gay audience member, I’ve been to a lot of theater and I’ve never experienced something where the thematics of the story, homophobia and hate, that were depicted on stage, were depicted in the audience,” Sullivan said, referencing the “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” storyline.
“When the play ended, that audience stood on its feet and cheered Anton and John more than they would any other night,” he said.
After a wrap party with the cast and crew, Ovington M. Owston fired Lacy, according to the actor.
The following day, Troy said he resigned in a show of solidarity, as did another actor in the show named Anthony Bietel.
“We are committed to provide groundbreaking subject matter and professional performances to our audiences,” said Ovington Michael Owston, executive director of the REP. “We are extremely sorry that our patrons experienced this disruption and will do our best to make it up to those holding reservations for cancelled performances.”
On Tuesday, another cast member responded to the reports by disagreeing with the way Lacy handled the situation.
"I don’t in any way condone the homophobic comments the audience member said," said Melissa Kaye, of Sylmar. "It was disgusting and wrong. I am a strong supporter of gay rights."
While stating the audience member, "absolutely should have been removed, she didn't Lacy should have confronted the audience member.
"As actors we need to leave audience control up to security and management of the establishment," Kaye said. "I don't believe becoming physical is the way to solve an issue."
Lacy said he felt as though nothing was being done about the heckler, which is why he took matters into his own hands.
Kaye added that she was saddened by Lacy's firing and the end of the run.
No further comment would be made by Owston at the direction of the theater’s board of directors and legal counsel, Owston said.
The next show in the REP’s 2014 season, “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” is in pre-production and is scheduled to open July 11.
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