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Entire Langham Court Theatre board resigns amid allegations of 'toxic culture,' new one elected

Langham Court has not staged a play of its own in close to a year
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People line up to enter the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre on Wednesday for a special general meeting about the future of Langham Court Theatre. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Board members of the Langham Court Theatre Society resigned en masse Wednesday, shortly before a special general meeting was to decide the future of the beleaguered Rockland-based community theatre company.

The board’s resignation took effect Wednesday at 4:59 p.m., one hour before an emergency general meeting got underway at Oak Bay High School’s 433-seat Dave Dunnet Community Theatre. The meeting was originally scheduled for the 177-seat Langham Court Theatre but had to be moved to accommodate demand.

The meeting was held to elect officers and directors to the positions that were vacated Wednesday by the former board, which had been in place since the society’s annual general meeting on Nov. 14, 2021.

Members elected Wednesday include Wayne Yercha (president), Jacqollyne Keath (vice-president), and members at large Heather-Elayne Day, Blake Handley, Geli Bartlett, and David Blue. Andrew Law (treasurer), Marilyn Kuss (secretary) were acclaimed.

They are required to serve until annual general meetings in either 2022 or 2023, depending on the position.

The future of the non-profit theatre, which has been in operation since 1929, has been highly debated online for the better part of a year. The former board abruptly cancelled Langham Court’s 2021-2022 season on Dec. 29, and put forth a six-month timeline for reopening, citing the need to repair a toxic culture.

Though the space has been booked on occasion by third-party renters. Langham Court has not staged a play of its own in close to a year, while the former board focused its efforts on an internal equity audit conducted by the Inter-Cultural Association, on behalf of Langham Court. The resulting data, which was eventually made public, was deemed “highly unacceptable,” according to the report.

In its letter of resignation, the board said “we are hurt, we are tired, and we can see that we need to stop offering chances to people who wish to intimidate and threaten us. We came into this space to help end the cycles of harm, and today we have chosen to end this one.”

The meeting was brought about by an anonymous group of society members calling itself Langham Theatre Supporters, which sent a series of emails to the board and members of the public over the course of several months, expressing concern about the financial status of the society.

The group wrote in a statement about its desire to remain anonymous, in order “to focus on providing factual information to members, rather than providing [the board and its supporters] with the opportunity to divert attention by attacking us as individuals on social media.”

The meeting Wednesday was expected to be a contentious affair, but the proceedings ­featured little of the rancour that has been prevalent online.

Mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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