Sunday, October 08, 2006

From the Trenches: Crazy Theater People (Part II)

Continuing my thread of Bad Bosses:

I have several juicy stories about AD, who is really one of the most interesting (not in a good way) people I’ve ever met. He is the kind of person about whom everyone has a story. His stupidity was legendary, but it wasn’t that he was dumb, exactly, in the way that Bush is dumb. It was more that he was so extraordinarily self-involved that the rest of the world disappeared for him. I think he thought that, as an artistic, creative person, the normal laws of civilization just didn’t apply. It’s easy to think this if you buck the norm. I have felt this way, myself, at times, particularly in high school and college when I was listening to Depeche Mode and The Cure on college radio (BEFORE they went Top-40, people, which made me a bit of a freak) and in my first job or two when I was still idealistic enough to stand up to injustice without regard for the ramifications of doing so (I still stand up to injustice, only now I’ve learned to pick my battles and to resist strategically).

But for AD, the whole world beyond himself was blurry. AD didn’t feel that he had to obey any conventions to treat people well, and he followed the stereotype of being prone to moods and of thinking that everything was about him. To make matters worse, Loony Rep was his baby, which he had created with co-Artistic Director (CO). So when Loony Rep was going down the tubes, financially, it of course had nothing to do, in AD’s mind, with his own bad planning and decision-making, but rather it was all about the board not giving him the support to which he was entitled.

And also, he smoked a lot of weed, which, while certainly one of the tamest illegal drugs out there, will make you stupid if you abuse it.

CO, by the way, had a bit of a drinking problem. And when I say “a bit of a drinking problem,” I mean that when I met him, some years after he’d been clean, he resembled Keith Richards. (I am not kidding.) AD and CO had been the best of friends when they started the company, but CO’s drinking was a problem. So were the company's finances, and when the board was ready to boot both AD and CO, AD managed to sell his friend down the river and save his own job. While this is not a nice thing to do to a friend, particularly when one’s own stupidity is also to blame for the deterioration of the company, it is somewhat understandable given the problem. AD felt so guilty about this that he could not bring himself to handle this difficult termination the way that most companies handle difficult terminations: taking the person’s keys and having security escort them out. I think he deserves some credit for this. But he should have changed the locks. CO came back one night and destroyed many of the archived company files.

A few years later, AD had CO re-hired in an effort to pacify the board (who were again getting ready to drop the axe due to AD’s terrible financial decisions). CO was to handle the business end of things. If memory serves, CO later had AD forced to resign. AD should have seen this coming.

AD had a weird, incestuous sort of “thing” with Ponytail (Pony)(named for obvious reasons). I don’t remember her actual job, perhaps she was his personal assistant, but she used to babysit for him and also help build and strike sets, etc. Supposedly, they had a kind of fatherly-daughterly relationship, or maybe it was uncley-neicey. At any rate, they were like family. Only...there was something else. They always denied that they were having a relationship, but we never believed it. Finally, one of my co-workers had a conversation with her that proved our suspicions to be true. He shared it with us. He told it something like this:
“So apparently Pony and AD were talking about masturbation. And she was telling me about this, and she told me that she had said to him, ‘AD, I’ve never done this before.’”
(Pony didn’t get it, but we did.)

One time AD went skiing and came back with a couple of broken ribs and a tale of how he had been schussing down the slopes and hit a tree, or fallen ass over teakettle, or something that involved athleticism on his part (which was hard to believe, as he had no muscle tone whatsoever). It turned out later that he had injured himself by walking into the open car door before he’d ever set foot on the slopes.

My favorite AD moment, though, was when he’d returned after a long trip to work with a theater in Eastern Europe. He was little-boy-excited to tell us about his trip. And then he told us about this one amazing thing that had happened on their travels. To get to where they were going, they had to cross the Ural Mountains. This was amazing, AD said, because they had no idea there would be a mountain range right there. It was a complete surprise for them to be flying over and looking out of the windows and suddenly seeing mountains beneath them. He was floored by this discovery of a whole mountain range that, as he said, “You can’t find on any map!”

Let me tell you, work was never boring.

To Be Continued.

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