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Theatre Victoria director fired; reasons debated

By APRILL BRANDON
Dec. 2, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.

Charles Moster

THE SHOW MUST GO ONThe performances of "A Christmas Carol" by Theatre Victoria and LifePointe Fellowship will proceed as planned this Saturday and the following two weekends. Here is the schedule for the performances:

1 p.m. Saturday at De Leon Plaza

1 p.m. Dec. 11 at Hiller House

5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at Victoria Mall

10:30 a.m. Dec. 19 at LifePointe Fellowship

All performances are free and open to the public.

Theatre Victoria's producing artistic director Charles Moster was fired Thursday, effective immediately.

On Thursday evening, the theater's board of directors met and issued a statement.

"After careful consideration, the board of directors of Theatre Victoria has decided to formally terminate the current producing artistic director. All shows will continue as scheduled," the statement read.

No further comments from board members were given.

Moster, who took over the position from former director Scott Mohon in March, said he thought the plan to oust him from his position had been brewing for months and was led by a group of volunteers, actors and staff members who didn't like the changes he was bringing to the organization, he said.

"I'm devastated and heartbroken. I've been treated horribly, and this is the worst experience I've ever had in business, and I'm 56 years old," Moster said. "A small minority treated me horrifically, and I didn't deserve this. I was fired because of a group of small-minded individuals who resist change."

Moster added that among the accusations made against him by the group were that he was disrespectful and rude to actors as a director, and the quality of shows had gone down since his arrival. He also said that actors and volunteers began to boycott auditions and performances he was involved in.

"They didn't like the changes I was bringing, trying to make the Welder Center a regional theater center and that I was bringing in a more diverse audience. They didn't like an outsider coming in and changing things," Moster, who lived in Austin before taking the position, said. "But the worst part of all is that they are trying to take my sense of pride away by telling me my shows were not good. Yet, we were getting standing ovations and selling record-breaking amounts of tickets."

Both Moster and the board have supporters regarding Wednesday's decision.

Randy Pollard, who has acted in the theater for the past three years, said he thinks there has been a decline in production quality.

"The one show I did see that I wasn't in, I personally was disappointed. And it was no reflection on the actors involved. The actors were doing the best job they absolutely could," he said, adding that there was never an organized boycott of the theater. "From a personal standpoint, I stopped participating because it just wasn't fun anymore. I can't speak for anyone else, but I think that was also the case for a lot of people."

Theatre Victoria's general manager Julie Zimmerman also stands by the board's decision, she said.

"The box office staff and myself thank Omar (Rachid, board president) and the board for supporting us and for putting the best interests of the theater above everything else. We are in complete agreement that this is a good thing, and it's something for the betterment of Theatre Victoria," she added.

Victor Cavazos, who works as a handyman at the theater and was directed by Moster in "A Lonestar Night" in September, said that reports of Moster being rude and nasty to actors and theater staff were lies.

"I never had any problems with Charles and he was never ugly to me. If no one else will, I'll stand up for the truth," he said. "He was never nasty or disrespectful toward any cast member of the show."

Alice Adams, an Austin journalist who wrote reviews of the theater's shows, said she saw the heavy opposition to Moster firsthand.

"For a group of longtime volunteers, he could do nothing right. It's not an easy thing to run a theater, but when everything is a battle, no one has that kind of stamina," she said. "He's just a good person, and to see him treated so badly is heart-wrenching."

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