I Want More: Theater Mu And Its Split With Its Artistic Director Randy Reyes

Monday, January 07, 2019

First, here's the text from the message from their site:

Dear Theater Mu Community,
From its inception, Theater Mu has been dedicated to producing performances born of arts, equity, and justice from the heart of the Asian American experience. We aspire to celebrate and empower Asian Americans through theater. In doing so, Theater Mu is committed to maintaining a welcoming and equitable environment.

A few months ago, Theater Mu received complaints about its artistic director. While our investigation into the matter did not find that any unlawful conduct occurred, we discovered conduct that did not reflect the culture we strive to achieve at Mu and did not reflect the high standards to which we hold Mu leadership. After reflection, the board has concluded that Mu must end his employment with the organization. We are grateful for all that he has brought to Mu over the years, and are disappointed that it has come to this conclusion.

Theater Mu remains, more than ever, dedicated to its mission, to the Asian American actor’s community, and to the Asian American community in the Twin Cities. Though this is a difficult and disappointing time, we believe that Theater Mu has the ability to learn, grow, and change from this experience. We hope to have the opportunity to demonstrate this over the next few months.


Theater Mu Board of Directors

I can understand the reasoning with some things needing to be "behind the scenes" and go from there. What people don't know, they don't know, and in a lot of cases - they don't need to know.

It's none of their business.

And I can relate in that way, especially if there are "skirmishes" in the community (whatever portions of those communities you belong too), or everyone wants to save some face (and I think everyone gets that from an Asian perspective).

Keep it on the DL (or as much as you can) and move on.

I get it.

I understand the need for privacy in some cases.

I understand that less is more and sometimes that's better.


In this case though - I just feel like, the statement they put out, it leaves too much open to question - and I think you can ask questions on both sides.

Who were the complaints from?

What were they?

What was the conduct that did not reflect the culture Mu strove to achieve and did not reflect the high standards to which they held Mu leadership?

I think it's fair game to ask those questions - and note I don't know Randy Reyes personally per se - even though we are located in the same city. I have met him (1-2 times), and I did do an interview with him, and have seen plays that he's directed/starred in (I think maybe two). At the same time, I've also been to Theater Mu. I've seen plays there. I've met founder Rick Shiomi (1-2 times). We talked for a bit about myself possibly being on a media committee they were thinking about having (albeit nothing came out of that).

So in that way I don't have skin in this game. I'm not pulling for one or the other.

In that way - from an outsider's POV - I feel like both have done good things for the AAPI community and I feel like - in this era - it just leaves too much open up to question.

On both sides.

If one can ask themselves - as they will - what type of complaints there were against Randy Reyes (which could be all over the board) it's fair to ask if the culture at Mu played any part in allowing that conduct - doesn't it?

Was there an internal investigation into the organization itself, after the investigation into their own artistic director?

And who did the investigation?

Was it external or internal?

For a company like Theater Mu - which is a non-profit who gets tax breaks and donations and is a visible organization and community player - versus say a smaller group or one just getting started, etc. - I feel like it should be more transparent because it has a responsibility to do so (and I can certainly be taken to task for thinking size/reach, etc. plays a part in what gets disclosed).

But In The End

Maybe it's better this way for everyone.

Maybe it's okay to not say anything so Reyes can defend himself in private and move on in his career.

Maybe it's okay to not say anything so Mu can move forward and people can keep donating to their organization.

Maybe it's okay to not say anything so it can all get pushed under the rug for the sake of the Asian American community so that the community can move forward, because it's the Asian American community, and an organization in the Midwest, and why make anything harder than it needs to be?