Actor Fired After Escorting Homophobic Heckler from CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF Performance
During a performance of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at Repertory East Playhouse in Santa Clara, Calif., actor John Lacy, who was playing 'Big Daddy' in the production of the Tennessee Williams' play, jumped down from the stage and physically removed a heckler who had been yelling anti-gay slurs from the audience.
Lacy was fired on Saturday, May 31, following the incident; fellow lead actor Anton Troy resigned in solidarity with his co-star.
"I will not support homophobia or an establishment that doesn't support its talent," Troy wrote on Facebook. "Hate in any form is not something I choose to subscribe to. John is a seasoned professional and an honorable man. It should never escalate to a point where the talent has to handle an unruly drunk in the audience themselves regardless of the outcome. Producers dropped the ball, the fish stinks from the head on down."
According to The Wrap, cast member Missy Kaye, however, questioned the overall safety of the cast and crew after Lacy's decision: "By you jumping off the stage and putting your hands on this guy put the whole theatre in jeopardy, cast and audience, and to me that is unforgivable," Kaye said. "What if this guy had a weapon? Did that cross your mind?"
Another cast member, Emily E. Low, commented that part of acting is accepting criticism from the audience, whether it be positive or negative. In a follow-up interview, she expanded on her point: "Sometimes you're gonna have those people in the crowd who don't understand that his is a high piece of art, or people who come into the show and don't even realize that it's a story about a person who's struggling with being gay," Low said. "I disagreed with things being dealt with violently, that's all that it is."
Because of insufficent time to re-cast the two lead roles previously played by Lacy and Troy, the remaining performances of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF have been cancelled.
Repertory East Playhouse's press release on the incident follows:
Due to unforseen circumstances, the run of the Tennessee Williams' drama "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" at the Repertory East Playhouse in Newhall has been suspended and the show will not be completing its projected performance schedule. The show was originally scheduled to end June 14, however, an incident during the May 31 performance has resulted in cast members leaving the show with no time to adequately re-cast their parts and provide the quality theater experience patrons have come to expect from the REP.
During that evening's performance, an unruly patron allegedly made discriminatory comments that distracted audience members and a confrontation occurred between a member of the cast and the disturbing party. The management of the REP regrets that this situation was not brought to their attention sooner and would like to assure future audiences that disruptive behavior, including disparaging remarks from the audience, incidents of bullying or hate speech, and racial, discriminatory or homophobic utterances, will not be tolerated and offending parties will be asked to leave the theater.
"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."
The next show in the REP's 2014 season, "Return to the Forbidden Planet," is in pre-production and will open as scheduled July 11. The REP is celebrating its 10th season of professional live theater in Santa Clarita and is an anchor of the Downtown Newhall Arts District. It is our mission to produce plays that excite the imagination and nourish the community's passion for theater.