Fells Point Corner Theatre (FPCT) and The Collaborative Theatre Co. (TCT) would like to clarify the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of A Christmas Carol, with regard to revelations about a cast member's criminal history.
On Thursday, December 7th, 2017, both companies released a statement that informed the press and the public of the cancellation. We regret that this statement was brief, and we would like to be more thorough now to avoid confusion and potential misrepresentation of the facts.
First, and most importantly, FPCT and TCT have received zero allegations or reports of abuse or predatory behavior regarding the actor in question, Steven Shriner. FPCT and TCT take such reports very seriously and invite anyone with such a report to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the authorities.
Earlier this year, Steven Shriner was cast in A Christmas Carol by his late husband and our Vice President, Anthony Lane Hinkle, who also wrote the adaptation. Upon Anthony’s death, Steven inherited ownership of the performance rights for A Christmas Carol. Following Anthony’s death, FPCT, TCT, Steven, and the director worked with local playwrights to complete the adaptation (devised for 6 adults playing all of the roles,) and to move ahead with the production in honor of Anthony’s memory.
In early November, the board of The Collaborative Theatre was informed of Steven’s status as a registered sex offender. Shortly thereafter, the board accepted Steven’s resignation as board president and ended their relationship with him.
Following Steven's resignation from TCT, the FPCT board and co-production team met to discuss the future of the production already in rehearsals. Steven informed the team that he was in compliance with his Tier 3 status and registration requirements. Again, the cast of A Christmas Carol was comprised of six adult actors and involved no minors whatsoever. To the knowledge of both companies, he had faithfully adhered to the terms of his registration. Therefore, in good faith, and in memory of Anthony, the production of A Christmas Carol continued as planned, with Steven playing the role of Scrooge.
In the week prior to opening, both organizations received messages regarding Mr. Shriner’s participation in the show. The organizations also received threats of protests at the theater. We had been aware of the risk of public scrutiny, and were prepared to respond to concerns, but we were not prepared for the possibility protesters would physically enter the theater and disrupt a production.
In that short time, we also received some claims about Steven's involvement in other theater companies several years ago. While we feel it is very important to note that none of these claims alleged any abusive or predatory behavior, we do not feel comfortable disclosing the specifics of these claims, as they cannot be validated. We will instead allow these other theater companies to speak for themselves. This new information destroyed the good faith the companies had had about moving forward.
In an effort to protect the cast, crew, and audience in the event of protests, all parties were informed, and began to take measures to ensure safety and security at the theatre. The threat of protests resulted in an actor leaving the production out of concern for their personal well being. FPCT and TCT respect the actor’s very personal decision, and request that the community respect the actor’s privacy. We were unable to recast the part of Scrooge because Steven was unwilling to let the show move forward without his involvement.
In the new light of this complex and troubling set of circumstances, production had become untenable. For the wellbeing of all parties involved, and out of respect and consideration for the voices of concern in the community, FPCT and TCT cancelled the show last Wednesday evening. All contracts were honored, and all stipends and reimbursements were paid out to the appropriate parties.
Moving forward, FPCT and TCT have committed to crafting detailed personnel policies and procedures, which will be shared with our artists and our community. We want to thank the community for their patience during this unprecedented event. We have made decisions that we have learned from, and we will continue to do better.
- FPCT and TCT