By Patrick Du Laney, Iowa City
On July 2, most of the Old Creamery artistic staff, including interim artistic directors Katie Colletta and Keegan Christopher, were suddenly and without warning fired from their jobs. The official reason given was COVID.
I am concerned that COVID is being used as a cover for something more troubling.
On June 10, the creative staff made a social media post in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, a position nearly every theater in America is taking. Specifically, they promised the Old Creamery would do better and more to hire actors and artists of color.
It is my understanding that, because of this post, The Board of Trustees at the Old Creamery responded with anger and defensiveness, claiming the Old Creamery did not need to apologize for anything they had done in the past, and ordered the staff to remove the post, which they did.
Three weeks later, they were fired.
I am a professional actor, educator and director, and have worked all over the country for nearly 30 years, including the Old Creamery in several capacities. I should also add that while I know Katie and Keegan enough to say hello on the street, we are not close friends. We are colleagues, and to see this happen to a colleague because they did the right thing is incredibly upsetting.
Since stepping up to lead, Keegan and Katie have worked hard to move the Old Creamery into the 21st century, programming shows and events that honor the past and look forward into Eastern Iowa’s bright, diverse future. It was Katie and Keegan that created and spearheaded the Songs to Make You Smile virtual cabaret, two events that raised thousands of dollars for local theater, both theirs and others.
I am incredibly ashamed and angered by the way the Board of Trustees has treated these two people, who have devoted nearly a decade of their lives to the Old Creamery Theatre. If indeed we are to be the Cultural Corridor, we need theatre that reflects our community, our diversity. The Board of Trustees must act immediately to rectify this situation. If not, I fear both artists and audiences will know they are not welcome in Amana.