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Rudin Thoughts, and the Denial of Humanity
Last Edit: Quicheo 12:20 pm EDT 04/23/21
Posted by: Quicheo 12:09 pm EDT 04/23/21

1) Dealing with Rudin is sending many people into cognitive dissonance. He has, by many accounts, been profoundly kind to many people, especially actors. He has also been monstrous to many others.

2) Reconciling that kindness with his abuse of his staff is a challenge for anyone, but especially those who have worked long and hard on their own behavior and public persona. Does anyone really expect Bette Midler and Betty "Dances with Pitchforks" Buckley to publicly call out Rudin with a straight face? Or people like Hugh Jackman, who lives in a rarified world of positivity that he has aggressively cultivated, who likely believe Rudin was a nice guy because that's all they have seen or, perhaps, want to see?

3) Every single profession in our culture has elements of apprenticeship which are rife with abuse potential. And the models of behavior for the successful that we have are from other abused people. This has been true for centuries and will take more than a few Vulture articles to resolve.

4) Expertise, talent, creativity, wealth, effort, and connection all have been allowed to excuse abuse, at every level, from the producer who treats his staff like serfs to the partner who undermines your input but funds your project to the colleague who snaps at the dressers, to the chat-room maven whose expertise is prized but whose temperament is tricky. Our culture coddles the powerful and enables abuse at every level.

5) Especially in America, we have few models of leadership partly because we believe we are a classless society.

6) The history within the theater and performing arts of a hierarchical system of downward abuse is ANCIENT. Almost as ancient as it is in medicine. And capitalism. And marriage.

7) I struggle to manage my staff every day. I constantly check myself against the examples that I trained under--the world-renowned surgeon whose techniques and innovations saved literally tens of thousands of lives but whose weekly tantrums involved throwing used surgical tools, including scalpels, at residents and nurses. (He was asked to retire early but they still named a wing of the hospital after him.) The acclaimed stage director whose singular gift was co-opting credit and praise at the expense of talented assistants who did most of the actual work of creation. Or the museum director who managed to pull the institution out of financial ruin through team building, coalition creation, and personal investment and example. So many examples in between as well, but as others have mentioned, all of these people got results, payment, and praise.

8) What kind of theater do we want? We will likely need to have space for some acting out and raised voices. We will need to have passionate people feel empowered to be passionate. We will need people to do menial tasks and to correct people's mistakes. We seem to want a space where decency reigns and humanity is shared equally, even if power cannot be.

9) What of our own behavior are we willing to abandon? What ticket will we not purchase? What letter will we send or not send? What difference can our own behavior make? What will we do?
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