The tight-knit Houston theater community is reportedly reacting with shock and outrage at the news of a $383,000 payout to Greg Boyd, former artistic director for the Alley Theatre, after coworkers accused him of behavior related to sexual harassment and bullying of actors.
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— Houston Informer (@houstoninformer) January 25, 2018
His payout is said to be part of a severance package Boyd received after he announced his retirement, rather than a buyout of his contract as a means to force him out of the position as leader of Houston’s most prestigious theater company.
Some theater company directors said they view the payout as a means to end what they and other actors described as a “reign of terror” by Boyd at the Alley.
“I try to imagine what it would be like to have been victimized by him for years only to see him rewarded so generously,” Classical Theatre Company Executive Artistic Director John Johnson said in an interview with the Houston Press. “I’d wager that it would be pretty hard to swallow.”
Another aspect of the Boyd payout reportedly angering theater workers stems from the Alley receiving much of its funding from donors and corporate sponsors.
Given this reality, some theater company leaders say Boyd’s alleged actions affected their community’s reputation and may cause donors, especially those coveted high-profile and high-dollar donors, to think twice about donating funds to any Houston theatrical production:
“The Alley has all the Houston heavy hitters on their donor list that many of the rest of us don’t have access to,” Jennifer Decker, Artistic Director of Mildred’s Umbrella said in an interview, “so (the severance) seems like a huge waste of resources to me. $380,000 funds my theater for over three years.”
In the aftermath of Boyd’s sudden departure, the Alley is reportedly re-evaluating its workplace environment, as more former actors and employees come forward.
Allegations are also coming to light regarding a guest director Gordon Edelstein, who the theater booked to direct “Satchmo at the Waldorf,” initially scheduled to open February 24; however, the Alley replaced Edelstein with playwright Terry Teachout.