On Wednesday afternoon, following criticism on social media from some members of the Seattle theater community regarding language in an audition notice for Ok.luv, a new musical about an online dating website, Theater Schmeater artistic director Doug Staley stepped down from his post. He's served as AD at "the Schmee" for five years.
The theater pulled the show from their summer line-up, and board members are expected to release a statement later today. Until then, there's always screenshots.
Tuesday morning, members of Theater Puget Sound received an e-mail containing an audition notice for the musical. The premise: a bunch of people sign up for an online dating service called Ok.luv because they want to find dates. Guess what happens next? They go on dates. Musical hijinks ensue. Two staged readings of the play have been produced.
The call for actors included character descriptions given to Staley by the writers of the script, Donna Rae Davidson and Robinski Jones. Here's the full text of the descriptions. The names in all caps are screen names for each character's online persona.
OK.LUV…He acts as an MC, represents the site, and selects the optional questions from the script and audience suggestions for each performance.
HEROINE NEEDED…David Erdmann, can be any age. He collects money from the government for being insane and unemployable. He lives alone. He is working on a novel about a serial killer who preys on women that he meets online. He is nocturnal and loves scary movies. He is not in touch with his family and has no friends. As creepy as he comes off, he is also harmless.
COWBOY…Frank Dick, 42. Laid off carpenter, who is living on Unemployment. Instead of looking for a job, he has become addicted to looking for a girlfriend online. He has completely taken on the persona of a cowboy, wears a cowboy hat and boots, and has a southern accent even though he has never lived in the south. He was previously engaged to ROSEALICIOUS, but stood her up on their wedding day.
HOT DOG 4 U…..Billy Sase, 20. High School drop out, janitor. He has a certain amount of charm, is attractive, but not very bright. He has not had a lot of sexual experiences in his life, but is currently obsessed with sex. He reads girly magazines, goes to pick up bars and watches porn online. He has decided to try internet dating and is focusing on older women because he believes his chances of getting laid might be better.
HELP ME….Leo Aaron Braunstein, 51, salesman, divorced, 4 kids from 4 different women. He is a chain smoker and alcoholic. He does not want to get married again, but is addicted to being in a relationship. He knows he is in trouble with his addictions and is hoping maybe a woman will motivate him to change. Although all four of his ex-wives were Jewish, he thinks he can break at least that habit. He is drinking and smoking throughout the play.
DANCING FOOL…Jim Johnston, 47, Insurance salesman, divorced and short. He is currently obsessed with ballroom dancing, and is convinced that if he becomes a good enough partner dancer, he will find someone to love him. He went through a very painful divorce about seven years ago, has not completely recovered and is still in love with his ex-wife. His seventeen year old son, Jeremy, is living with him, but is preparing to move out. Jim wants to find a woman before that happens because he does not like the idea of being alone.
RUNNING EAGLE…Running Eagle Harrison, 40’s, Native American. He has never been married, is sterile, but wants to find a woman with children so he can have the experience being a father and a husband. He is not opposed to adopting kids, although his focus is finding a ready made family. He is very well dressed, a college professor and teaches Native American history.
COMPUTER GIRL…Terry Wright, 42, divorced, single mom. She home schools her 2 girls and has almost everything she needs…delivered. She is a Republican, a Christian and has a computer job which she does from home. She is leaving the house less and less and hopes to find a man that can help her get out of her rut, help her raise her girls and return to having a stable family unit.
AFRICAN QUEEN…Lisa Knight, 30’s, African American, bartender who wants to find and marry an older white guy with lots of money. She sends her welfare-collecting mother money every month and also tries to help her nine brothers and sisters who are mostly down and out as well. She has never been married and is extremely independent. She is capable of taking care of herself, but feels she has to continue to provide financial support for her family because she is the only one that has her shit even somewhat together. She is a big fat liar because she feels she needs to be one in order to find what she is looking for.
LOVE CHILD…Aiko Watanabe, 47. Aiko is Japanese for Love Child. She is a traditional Japanese woman, from Shikoku, a small town in Japan, brought to the US by her son after her husband died. She has long hair which she wears up in a bun and glasses. She has been in the US almost a year and is doing her best to become Americanized. She as decided it is time to start dating, which she has never done. Her marriage was arranged, so this is a brand new thing for her.
CHI-WOW-WOW…Susan Lowery, 30’s, Never married and overweight. She is a self employed dog groomer and has 7 Chihuahuas that she loves too much, and is lonely for human contact. She has a younger brother who is currently in prison. She has not been in a relationship in over six years and her previous relationships were all short lived. She has long involved conversations with her dogs (who are played by the characters in her vicinity).
AVAILABLE…Cheryl long, 57, separated with no children. Recently devastated by a very public affair by her powerful divorce lawyer husband (Donald), she is looking for men to have sex with to validate herself as a woman, and to get back at her soon-to-be-ex. Even though her husband has had women on the side for the last several years of their relationship, she never thought he would actually leave her. These affairs were never addressed by either her or her husband. She is angry, but has not found an effective or healthy way to deal with her grief. She is putting on a happy face, along with a lot of make-up and a low cut dress. She has convinced herself that having meaningless sexual experiences with whatever men she can find will some how dull the pain.
ROSEALICIOUS…Jayne (Rosy) Mannacan, 28, singer/songwriter, originally from Omaha, Nebraska. A waitress, she performs at open mikes and is always looking for her big break and the man of her dreams. She also has rose tattoos on several places on her body. She is still pissed off and hurt about being stood up on her wedding day by Cowboy, and does not trust men…even though she wants to try being in another relationship. All her responses to the questions from OK.luv are snippets from famous songs, sometimes delivered as song parodies, that she sings and plays on her guitar. She is also the waitress for all personal meetings.
In one of two statements posted to Facebook, Staley explained his intentions:
In his conclusion to another statement, which was posted to the FB group Seattle Theatre Artists, Staley writes:
"For the theater artist, we need to be willing to confront all the manifestations of being human, godlike or demon, regardless of our private politics, desires and predilections. Conformity is dull, untheatrical."
Few things in the world of theater are duller or more "untheatrical" than "tone deaf" playwrights and artistic directors producing plays that traffic in stereotypes. Stereotypes are cliches, and cliches, when used uncritically, make bad art.
The only thing that is certainly duller, more "untheatrical," and more cliche than a Seattle theater institution "fucking up" in this way is reading long non-apologies full of cliches about the "duty" of theater artists from a member of that institution.