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Cast shuts down production of Iron Crow Theatre's 'Corpus Christi' amid allegations of sexual harassment

The cast of Iron Crow Theatre has walked out following sexual harassment allegations against the theater and its artistic director, Sean Elias.
The cast of Iron Crow Theatre has walked out following sexual harassment allegations against the theater and its artistic director, Sean Elias. (HANDOUT)

The cast of a production by Baltimore’s Iron Crow Theatre has walked out following allegations of sexual harassment against its artistic director.

Thirteen members of the cast of Iron Crow’s upcoming production of Terrence McNally’s “Corpus Christi” issued a statement posted to Facebook Saturday. “We … as a group decided to suspend our production,” it read in part.

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The cast’s decision comes after Iron Crow, which bills itself as “Baltimore’s only queer theatre,” conducted an investigation into allegations against the theater and its artistic director, Sean Elias.

“Our investigation was thorough and impartial,” the board said in a statement released Monday afternoon, “and concluded that the specific allegations of sexual harassment [made] by a former volunteer member of our organization did not occur.”

Baltimore's Iron Crow Theatre, which has specialized in works with an LGBT perspective, will not produce a 2015-2016 season, but instead will focus on reorganizing and redefining.

Iron Crow’s board, in a statement posted on the theater’s Facebook page March 24, said they were aware of “concerns … regarding unprofessional behavior at Iron Crow.” Working with “outside counsel,” the statement read, the results of the investigation “allow us to confirm our full confidence in our Artistic Director and CEO, Mr. Sean Elias, and the entire Iron Crow volunteer staff.”

In a follow-up statement posted on Facebook two days later, the board said, “Although our investigation did not conclude that sexual harassment had occurred, the Board found that additional steps to ensure professional behavior in our theater environment were necessary and appropriate.” They included “expanded policies and community-derived standards related to professionalism and harassment of all types,” as well as increased training “for all administrative and production staff,” a procedure for bringing grievances to the board, some “restructuring” of board and staff positions and “ongoing coaching and mentoring for our leaders.”

The statement also said the board “did not and will not comment more on the specifics of the investigative process.”

Faced with the revelation that their lead actor was a convicted sex offender and fearing the possibility of protests, the Fells Point Corner Theatre and Collaborative Theatre Company canceled their holiday production of “A Christmas Carol.”

The cast’s statement said they did not “wish to collectively comment on the Iron Crow controversy.” The statement acknowledged that cast members had different views on the matter.

“We concluded that we could not proceed without unanimous agreement among ourselves,” the statement read.

“Corpus Christi” had been set to run at Baltimore Theatre Project April 6-15. The cast has scheduled a free staged reading of the play for 8 p.m. Friday at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St. Donations will be accepted, with proceeds going to the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Reservations are offered through brownpapertickets.com.

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Monday afternoon, Iron Crow’s board said the company would be postponing “Corpus Christi” and its scheduled June production of “The Laramie Project.” Both shows will be rescheduled for later in the summer, according to the statement.

The board also said it was planning a “community dialogue and forum in mid-May to hear concerns and generate solutions for moving forward." Anyone interested in participating can send an email to community@ironcrowtheatre.org.

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