In the early stages of a nonprofit board, there are often no staff. Board members may even be formally designated with staff titles and play their part often not distinguishing between their board/governing "hat" and their staff "hat". Needless to say, these times can be trying but also productive - work gets done at least on the program sign and maybe not so much on the governing signs. But this reality is often part of the learning curve that results in a nonprofit that thrives and a board that develops effectiveness on the governing side (albeit, not always).
Below is the first part of a 2-part drama (part 2 is here) that describes a board that has played its part as governing while continuing to be staff, or at least designate some of its members as staff. I am wondering however how, if the two roles are never fully separated, the drama will ever really end.
Offstage drama brings leadership change at Camden theater company
Joe Paprzycki has been forced to exit the theater company that owes its existence to the play that launched his career.
Will there be a [new] play in this? Absolutely," Paprzycki said Thursday. "There's a play in everything, especially something with this much drama and backstabbing."
SCTC Board President Robert Bingaman, the company's resident set designer and a longtime friend of Paprzycki's, declined to comment. The Haddon Township resident, who's 59 and has been associated with SCTC since 2008, did provide a statement Friday from the board.
"The decision to remove [Paprzycki] was not made lightly," the statement said, citing "the current state of the company's finances, the declining attendance at our shows, and the many challenges facing the company" as reasons "to move in a new direction." The statement also noted that Paprzycki was not asked to resign from the board itself, but had done so voluntarily.
SCTC is "discussing candidates to fill [the post] on an interim basis while we also plan for the future," continued the statement; it also emphasized that summer programs, including free movies, will continue as the company builds "a viable young people's theatre program" and plans a season of "exciting professional theatre ... along with music, comedy, and local entertainment."
On Thursday, after news of his abrupt and unexpected departure broke on social media, Paprzycki said he was heartened by an outpouring of support.
"I can't tell you how glad I am to have gotten 100 emails and phone calls from people all over the country," he said. "I felt appreciated, what with all the terrible things that have happened."
Paprzycki described his ouster as the result of "a mini-cabal of board members" who took issue with his choice of material. "People who are carpenters and secretaries were saying,`you can't do that play because we say so,'" he said. "That's no way to judge what I do."
The Camden native and Gloucester City resident is a great fan of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, and SCTC has regularly offered productions of works by these and other masters, often under his direction. He also organized series or seasons of plays centered on themes such as war and faith.
Paprzycki is a prolific playwright, and some of his works were produced at SCTC, including Last Rites. Set in 1967 at a South Camden bar owned by his grandparents, the play — a powerful story about the shipyard closure that traumatized the neighborhood — launched the theatre company at the nearby Sacred Heart Church in 2004.
Last Rites was also the debut production when a brand-new theater, built on the site of the former bar, opened in 2010. I saw the play (and many others) in this delightful new performing arts space, an anchor for the budding arts district in the tough but resilient section of Camden.
So the unexpected and in my view, unfortunate plot twist has an impact beyond the handsome walls of the Waterfront South Theatre. For the sake of the city, not to mention fans of affordable and often adventurous theater in South Jersey and beyond, SCTC's show must go on.