Washington College’s decision to cancel public performances of The Foreigner two weekends ago has upset the college’s Board of Visitors and Governors, and President Kurt Landgraf has acknowledged that the cancellation was mishandled.
Landgraf told the Spy yesterday that the last-minute decision to cancel the performance was made without his knowledge when he was out of town. But he said he supported the decision in the interest of the well-being of the students.
“This was not about the play,” he said. “It was about protecting the students.”
He also said the decision to cancel was made by Laura Eckelman, currently the acting chair of the theatre department, with support from the administration. This is in contrast to the Spy’s earlier reporting when several sources told the Spy that Washington College Provost Patrice DiQuinzio made the final decision to cancel the play — over the objections of the theatre department.
And while some believe the college will try to put on a performance in the spring, Landgraf said there was no guarantee of one. He said his focus would be on a discussion to better communicate and present sensitive content in the future — to avoid the same morass that occurred with The Foreigner.
Landgraf said he supported the decision because it was clear students needed to be protected after a racial incident was reported on campus. Landgraf said a white pickup truck was seen on campus with the occupants shouting racial epithets. He said the Chestertown Police Department was investigating the truck captured on video.
But in a call to CPD Tuesday, the Spy learned that there is no formal investigation into any incidents. CPD Acting Chief John Dolgos said it was brought to his attention but there was no formal request by the college for an investigation. He said he would start an investigation if requested.
In requesting clarification from the college, Communications Director Wendy Clarke told the Spy, “Public Safety contacted CPD to let them know the nature of the incident, the type of vehicle involved, and whether they had had any similar reports anywhere else. He said that as part of that conversation, acting Chief John Dolgos told him that although the behavior was bad, it was not illegal, and so the CPD would have no crime to investigate.”
In a followup call to CPD, Chief Dolgos said he spoke with WC’s Director of Public Safety Brandon McFayden, and they both agreed that the behavior did not rise to the level of a crime.
In search of a remedy for the morale of the cast and crew, some alumni are banding together to take the cast to dinner and organize a performance of the show to run at Kent County High School, the alumni would pay the school $1,000 for use of the facility for up to three days.
Update: Kent County School Superintendent Karen Couch responded Wednesday, “that no one has approached KCHS regarding the rental of our auditorium for this purpose. Furthermore, if asked [the principal] would not agree to such a request.”
Flickr Photo, Auburn University