Dead Writers Collective closes after harassment allegations

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heather_chrisler_ben_muller_brad_davidson_mid__dsc_6046.jpg

Heather Chrisler (from left), Ben Muller and Brad Davidson in the 2014 production of “Emma” at Dead Writers Theatre Collective, Inc. | PHOTO BY MICHAEL BROSILOW

The Chicago Reader this afternoon reports that “a social media firestorm of allegations of sexual harassment and emotional abuse ignited Tuesday afternoon and incinerated Dead Writers Collective, a six-year-old theater company, which announced this morning that it was closing for good.”

The source of the trouble was a contract disagreement between Jim Schneider, the company’s cofounder and artistic director, and Megan DeLay, a collective member who’d been slated to perform in a company fund-raiser but dropped out a week and a half before rehearsals were scheduled to begin, citing another, better-paying opportunity. Schneider responded with an angry e-mail stripping DeLay of her collective member status, the story states. When DeLay posted about the incident on Facebook on Monday, Schneider commented, You really don’t want to go here Megan. I can easily smear you with many of the theatre producers and directors in this town, adding, And to the rest of you if you break your contracts with theatre companies one and a half weeks before rehearsals and leave your company in the lurch don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you. Without theatre companies you would not have a job.

Read the rest of the story here.

Schneider faced a social media firestorm in the wake of his comments, which pretty much destroyed the ratings of the Dead Writers’ Facebook page. The troupe’s website was no longer available.

According to PerformInk.com, who reached out to Schneider for comment, “Schneider responded Wednesday morning, saying “In lieu of this firestorm, as the Founder of the company and AD, I have tended [sic] my resignation and we are closing down the company. I have apologized for my statement to Megan publically [sic] on Facebook. This matter should have been worked out between she and I and not in the court of public opinion. She chose to make it all public before I had any chance to respond to her.”

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