PICT fires 17-year artistic director Paul
After 17 years as producing artistic director for Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre, Andrew S. Paul has been fired.
“We made the decision that we need to have a full-time artistic director here in Pittsburgh,” said Eugene O'Sullivan, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical's board chairman. “Andrew doesn't give enough attention to running an arts organization.”
“That's preposterous,” Paul said. “Basically they are saying they don't believe I can do the job effectively.”
Over the past two years, Paul, who founded the company with Stephanie Riso in 1997, has split his time between Pittsburgh and Las Vegas after his wife, Maria, relocated there for a new job.
“I'm here 50 percent of the time, and I'm not on vacation when I'm in Las Vegas,” said Paul, who believes the relocation has not affected his ability to plan seasons, cast and direct shows, raise money and arrange educational and outreach programs.
Paul believes his visions for the company were not in line with those of some board members.
Since founding the company, Paul has prided himself on producing shows that are as artistically rewarding as they are financially risky. Over the years, he has done occasional festivals that focus on playwrights such as Samuel Beckett or Harold Pinter that received critical acclaim, though not necessarily large audiences.
“I've had an incredibly long, troubled history with boards because I'm a very arts-first person and blunt. … My vision is a very high-risk vision, and boards can't wrap their minds around it. The problem is that theater companies are built off of passion,” Paul said. “I think the company is doing some of the best work it has ever done.”
Though the company had, in earlier years, struggled with financial shortfalls, Paul said the company has operated in the black for the past four seasons. Moreover, he said: “Contributed revenue is at a record high and I'm the primary fundraiser.”
The board has named Alan Stanford as interim producing artistic director.
O'Sullivan expects Stanford also will take over three of the four shows that Paul had been scheduled to direct this season. There are six plays in the group's season.
That's a move that's particularly painful for Paul, who lured the Irish actor and director here to work with the company in 2008.
Since then, Stanford has directed Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre productions that include his own adaptations of “Jane Eyre” and Oscar Wilde's play “Salome,” as well as Sarah Ruhl's “In the Next Room or the vibrator play,” and he has appeared in roles such as Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and in last season's “The Pitmen Players.”
Paul considered him a friend and said he helped Stanford obtain his green card so he could work in the United States.
“This is a mess,” says Richard E. Rauh, a Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre board member. “It's coming at a bad time, because it's the opening of the season and (Paul) is supposed to direct three-fifths of the season.”
Paul says he had no warning until O'Sullivan called him on Tuesday and fired him with three months' pay as compensation.
Only two weeks ago, he had been in New York City auditioning actors for the season's first production, “Our Class,” which he was scheduled to direct for the season's opening on April 10.
With rehearsals set to begin March 15, Paul said he offered to continue as director for “Our Class,” but O'Sullivan told him no.
“What's the point of doing a project if the person who is passionate about it is not doing it. You don't fire somebody who has programmed it and cast it. It doesn't work that way. It's destructive,” Paul said.
O'Sullivan said a new director has not yet been hired for “Our Class.”
“The season will go on,” O'Sullivan promised.
Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Overnight snowfall plagues public transportation, schools, commuters
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- 14 more arrested in connection with drug trafficking ring
- Springdale Twp. police car crashes into veterinary clinic
- Ice jam wipes out McKeesport’s marina
- Wolf’s Pa. budget plan seen as having almost no chance
- Angry fans cited in shortage of refs in Western Pennsylvania
- Dermatologist led UPMC residency program
- Sestak kicks off U.S. Senate campaign — with a couple missteps