Protestors Respond To New WEST SIDE STORY Statement On Amar Ramasar Controversy
The Broadway revival of West Side Story issued a new statement today in support of the casting of Amar Ramasar. The production noted that "The West Side Story Company stands, as it always has stood, with Amar Ramasar. While we support the right of assembly enjoyed by the protestors, the alleged incident took place in a different workplace --- the New York City Ballet --- which has no affiliation of any kind with West Side Story, and the dispute in question has been both fully adjudicated and definitively concluded according to the specific rules of that workplace, as mandated by the union that represents the parties involved in that incident. Mr. Ramasar is a principal dancer in good standing at the New York City Ballet. He is also a member in good standing of both AGMA (representing the company of NYCB) and Actors' Equity Association (representing the company of West Side Story)."
"There is zero consideration being given to his potentially being terminated from this workplace, as there has been no transgression of any kind, ever, in this workplace. The West Side Story Company does not as a practice terminate employees without cause. There is no cause here. The West Side Story Company's relationship to Mr. Ramasar is completely private to that company and exists solely between Mr. Ramasar and his fellow company members. He is a valued colleague who was hired to play a principal role in this production, which he is doing brilliantly, and which he will continue to do for the entire unabated length of his agreement."
However, last month, OnStage Blog reported that an unnamed member of the WEST SIDE STORY company contacted the publication and said that they support those speaking out against Ramasar's casting, that they support Waterbury, and that they share the anger being expressed about the situation.
Since principal casting was announced last July for the Ivo van Hove-directed Broadway revival of West Side Story, many individuals in and around the theatrical community have voiced public concerns about the actor playing the role of Bernardo, Amar Ramasar.
An online petition demanding Ramasar's removal from the production has gained more than 25,000 signatures. Tonight, in a new statement in response to the production, a representative for the protests said "In response to [the] statement by the West Side Story creative team, petition starter Megan Rabin, Alexandra Waterbury, and Change.org have released this joint statement:
The statement released by West Side Story today demonstrates that the production cares more about money and talent than the safety of its performers. Amar Ramasar's behavior at City Ballet was vile - yet West Side Story chose to hire him anyway.
Just because the production is not legally obligated to fire him doesn't eliminate their moral obligation to keep abusers off the stage. Ramasar shared explicit photos of fellow ballerinas without their consent. His behavior was disgusting, damaging and unlawful.
We stand outside your theatre chanting because we have been told that Broadway is a safe, inclusive space. But with this production, Scott Rudin and his team have set a precedent that talent justifies abuse - and that's not something we intend to be quiet about.
We will continue to 'enjoy' our right to assembly, and look forward to educating patrons about the sexual predator in your show again on opening night."
WEST SIDE STORY's opening night is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, as is the next protest outside the theatre.
For more background on the casting controversy and the allegations, see our previous reporting here.
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