What if you put on a theatre season and nobody came? And what if you had no plays to put on?
The Factory Theatre may find out soon. In a full-page ad in this week's NOW, dozens of the country's most prominent theatre artists announced they are planning to boycott the Factory until the board reinstates artistic director Ken Gass.
The names amount to a literal who's who of Canadian theatre, including actors Martha Henry, RH Thomson, Fiona Reid, Seana McKenna and Gordon Pinsent; playwrights Michael Redhill, Morwyn Brebner, George F. Walker and Judith Thompson; directors Atom Egoyan, Miles Potter and Ross Manson; and those who wear a variety of hats, like Michael Healey, Kristen Thomson, Maja Ardal, David Ferry and Andrew Moodie.
Gass was fired by the board a month ago.
In a statement dated June 27, a week after the firing, the board said they "had been having discussions with Gass for many months about the plans for the future of the Theatre. There were irreconcilable differences... and the Board had an obligation to act in what it believes is the best interest of Factory Theatre."
At savethefactory.ca, you can find a petition (which has more than 3900 signatures as of this writing), asking for the resignation of the board members. Incidentally, the site also includes photos, biographies and email addresses of each board member.
But most illuminating is a link called "Why Ken Was Fired," which includes Gass's detailed account of the events leading up to his ousting. Gass, who co-founded the theatre in 1970, also explains how he helped save it from financial ruin in the mid-90s, putting up his own money and working without salary for 10 months.
It was the mounting of the hugely successful six-play Suburban Motel series that helped change fortunes. Ironically, its author, George F. Walker, has withdrawn his play, Dead Metaphor, from Factory's 2012-2013 season in protest. It was scheduled to have gone up next March. Judith Thompson is also considering removing her play, Watching Glory Die, from the season. The show is scheduled to go up in spring 2013.
According to Factory's website, its season begins in November with the English language premiere of Michel Marc Bouchard's Tom And The Coyote.
Whether the board or Gass will be at the opening is uncertain. A lot of drama can happen in three months.