A Second Sudden Exit for a Hard-Charging Artistic Director

In the recent interview, Mr. Roth denied some of the allegations that were made, including that he had adopted tokenist attitudes toward employees and performers of color, been disrespectful of women and blocked department heads from doing their jobs. Supporters of his said that a diverse range of people could vouch for his conduct.

In the introduction to the complaint, the staff members wrote: “We see white supremacy at work at Mosaic stemming from a Cis White Male leadership with unilateral decision making power who employ harmful tactics onto staff resulting in lost time, resources, money, as well as damage to the mental health of the staff.”

“This is character assassination,” Mr. Roth said.

But he acknowledged a series of disturbing incidents at Mosaic that have been cause for concern, including mishandling a sexual harassment complaint brought to his attention early in his tenure; dismissing a drunk actor at intermission; and awkwardly delivering critical notes to an all-female design team of one play.

The harassment complaint was made by an actress who said she had witnessed a playwright sexually harass and inappropriately touch one of her colleagues. In separate interviews, both actresses said that they were disappointed with how the situation was addressed; they said that Mr. Roth had merely banned the playwright from the theater’s green room and did not take sufficient steps to protect their anonymity.

Mr. Roth admitted he mishandled the incident, saying that he had reacted “in a hurry” and with “insufficient training.” In a later season, the actress who had brought forward the complaint asked for a sexual harassment policy to be read at the first rehearsal. It was not.

“We let her down twice,” Mr. Roth said in the interview.

Kimberly Gilbert, an actress who served as the Actors’ Equity union liaison for what she described as “a very fraught” production at Mosaic, said that Mr. Roth represented an older style of artistic director who gives instructions and expects his orders to be followed, even by a small, underpaid staff. “When work isn’t done, he gets frustrated,” she said.

“His defense is that the role of the artistic director has changed,” she said. “But everything changes. Everything evolves. We just happen to be living in a time where this imaginary rule that an artistic director’s actions will be tolerated by the people below — that rule no longer exists, and we will call people out.”


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