During a production of As You Like It at the University of Washington's Glenn Hughes Theatre on Wednesday, Tamsen Glaser, Hazel Lozano, and fellow cast members and crew caught a whiff of something that smelled like spray paint backstage. In the midst of the play's first act, an undergraduate actor alerted the stage and house managers who went outside and found eight Neo-Nazi recruitment posters plastered onto the theatre's front doors. Students were able to tear down the posters, but there's still residue from the spray adhesive all over the doors, said Glaser, who is playing Jaques in the re-imagination of the classic Shakespeare production.
The poster, which appears to have been put up by members of the Atomwaffen Division, reads: "Where will you be when the race war begins? When the world burns? Join your local Nazis congregating near you!"
Student cast members and crew had mixed feelings about the vandalism.
"It was terrifying because all the leads are people of color...and a wide [number] of our audience are people of color," she said. "We have people playing LGBTQ characters and that's a huge portion of our audience as well. It didn't seem arbitrary."
Glaser said she hadn't seen the posters in-person before, but knows that they have been popping up all over the UW campus for months. In mid-January, UW Political Science Associate Professor Jack Turner was harassed online and over the phone after he published a Facebook post about how students in his class tore down Neo-Nazi recruitment posters outside of Raitt Hall.
Another cast member (who wished to remain anonymous for work-related reasons) said that, as an African-American woman, she did not feel threatened when she heard about the posters.
"We did not feel targeted because of the world we live in," she said. "We live in a world where every day I wake up, I am a target and I've learned to live with it. A Nazi poster is not scary to me."
What's scarier to her, she said, is that the people around her, even people she considers friends, may not see past her skin color because "white supremacy and white privilege reign supreme."
Hazel Lozano, who plays Touchstone in the production, felt similarly.
"I don't feel targeted or any more threatened than I have in the past four months," she wrote in a message. "[Especially] after hearing there were posters elsewhere on the Seattle and Bothell campuses."
Reports on social media sites including Reddit noted that there were other neo-Nazi recruitment flyers posted at Sieg Hall. The Stranger was unable to find reports about similar posters being found at the Bothell campus.
"The thing that upsets me so much is the blatant gaslighting that is happening across the nation," said Glaser. "This can't be normalized, yet it is because we're seeing it so often. This is not freedom of speech. This is harassment."
She continued: "One of the hardest parts is the nature of the show. It's a call for learning how to love in this kind of world."
The drama school's faculty have been supportive of their students and many plan to attend all the shows until it closes on February 19, said Glaser, Lozano, and another cast member.
Professor Todd London, executive director of the UW School of Drama, said that after UW Police officers were called, they arrived at the Glenn Hughes Theatre "within minutes" of the posters being discovered last night. London said he requested that UWPD provide additional security outside of the Glenn Hughes Theatre during the last week of As You Like It. Major Steve Rittereiser, a spokesman for UWPD, confirmed that London was in contact with patrol officers. Officers would be patrolling near the theatre during performances, he said.
"We want them to feel safe so they're not spending their deepest energies worrying when they should be focusing that on performing," said London. "It's pretty simple: We want them to be protected and for them to feel free."
This post has been updated to include comments from actor Hazel Lozano and another cast member who wished to remain anonymous.