Actor Fired After Tossing Out Anti-Gay Heckler During 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' Performance
Actor John Lacy was fired from a production of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" at the Repertory East Playhouse (REP) in Santa Clarita, California after he left the stage to confront allegedly drunken hecklers hurling gay slurs at the cast.
No efforts were made by producers or theater management to remove the hecklers.
After the violent hecklers were removed with assistance from audience members, the show continued. Lacy, who was portraying "Big Daddy," was fired after the play concluded that evening.
His fellow cast member Anton Troy, who was on-stage portraying "Brick" during the incident, resigned in solidarity with his cast mate. Troy posted on Facebook:
I support my cast mate - - no John Lacy means no Anton Troy. I will not support homophobia or an establishment that doesn't support its talent. Hate in any form is not something I choose to subscribe to. John is a seasoned professional and an honorable man. It should never escalate to a point where the talent has to handle an unruly drunk in the audience themselves regardless of the outcome. Producers dropped the ball, the fish stinks from the head on down.
Two other cast members, Missy Kaye and Emily Low, apparently didn't agree with Lacy's decision to intervene with the hecklers.
“I, unlike most of you, am NOT proud to be an actor today,” cast member Missy Kaye wrote on Facebook in response to Troy's resignation.
“By you jumping off the stage and putting your hands on this guy put the whole theatre in jeopardy, cast and audience, and to me that is unforgivable,” Kaye added.
“What if this guy had a weapon? Did that cross your mind?”
Fellow actress Emily E. Low, who plays the female lead, agreed that violence should not have been the answer, adding that part of acting is accepting criticism from the audience.
“As actors we must take the positive audience responses with the negative. It's not always about cheers and standing ovations,” she wrote in the same Facebook thread.
Low added that Troy's character, Brick, is gay, suggesting that the heckler's anti-gay slurs may have been appropriate.
“And, the truth is, Brick is, after all, a gay man,” she wrote. “The material is strong, and it elicits strong responses from an audience, different every night.”
Both actresses have since come under fire for not supporting their cast mate. It's also been alleged that one of the hecklers was Low's boyfriend, which she denies, stating that he was at most an acquaintance invited to the production among hundreds on social media.
Low defended her comments to The Wrap, saying:
“I was just trying to say that sometimes people are — sometimes you're gonna have those people in the crowd who don't understand that his is a high piece of art, or people who come into the show and don't even realize that it's a story about a person who's struggling with being gay,” Low said.
Those people may have the type of inappropriate reaction the heckler had out of hatred or ignorance, but the job of the actor is not to engage with them physically, Low added.
“I disagreed with things being dealt with violently, that's all that it is,” she said.”
“My mother is gay. To be called a homophobe, or to be put on the side of a homophobe … it just breaks my heart,” Low added.
The actress said she supports her castmate John Lacy and does not believe he should have been fired, but she disagreed with the violent steps he took. Low said lead actor Anton Troy mentioned to Lacy during intermission that the heckler made him uncomfortable, but that Troy should have made those feelings known to the producers.
“Anton chose not to inform the producers; he informed John, and of course John got upset,” Low said.
The production of "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" has been suspended through the end of its June 14 run with as a result of "cast members leaving the show with no time to adequately re-cast their parts..." according to the REP.
In a statement the REP also says:
The management of the REP regrets that this situation was not brought to their attention sooner and would like to assure future audiences that disruptive behavior, including disparaging remarks from the audience, incidents of bullying or hate speech, and racial, discriminatory or homophobic utterances, will not be tolerated and offending parties will be asked to leave the theater.
What's your reaction to John Lacy's firing and the stance of his cast mates? What about the actions by the REP?
(Image Credit: John Lacy/Facebook)