Jobsite Theatre is moving forward after severing all ties with New York playwright Israel Horovitz. HIR, a “subversive” comedy by Taylor Mac, has been slotted in to replace Horowitz’ Man in Snow, originally scheduled for the March 9-April 1 slot.
In November, the New York Times published accusations of sexual misconduct — from groping to rape — against the 78-year-old Horovitz. The accusers were nine women who worked with him, going back to the 1980s.
Horowitz, who befriended Jobsite in 2015 and has collaborated with the theater numerous times, was to produce Man in Snow.
Jobsite’s artistic director David Jenkins is still coming to terms with the news about Horovitz.
“Here is a friend, here is a mentor, here is someone I really feel I owe a lot to,” Jenkins says. “Someone I like a lot! He and his wife are really great people.
“Out of respect for these women, out of respect for letting these things clear up one way or another, I really had no choice than to suspend the production — and, for at least the time being, the collaboration.”
Will enough time ever pass for Horovitz to once again be welcome at Jobsite?
“If those allegations are true, if there are more stories than that, I don’t know that I would be willing to put my artists in jeopardy,” Jenkins says.
He has spoken with the playwright twice since the stories went public, and briefly, tying up loose ends related to the business of Man in Snow.
With the exception of a now-useless graphic design, Jobsite hadn’t yet written any checks toward the production.
“It’s not like we were invested in contracts we weren’t going to be able to get out of,” says Jenkins. “It wasn’t like we’d begun building scenery or started rehearsal — those things would have obviously lost us a lot more money.”
HIR (it’s pronounced Heere) would have made the first cut for the current season, but it came to the selection committee too late for consideration.
But Jenkins had not forgotten the script. He liked the world Taylor Mac created even better the second time he read it.
The committee discussed “answering” the Horovitz situation by mounting a play about an egregious abuse of power, but decided against it.
“Then,” recalls Jenkins, “the question was ‘What would you have done if this relationship with Israel didn’t exist at all? What play would have been the one to come forward?’”
The answer was HIR.
One of the main characters is a transgender teenager, Max. Precise casting is always paramount at Jobsite — and, Jenkins says, he has nine young actors in an audition queue this week, all of whom have the qualifications to play the role.
In the meantime, Jenkins still hasn’t come to terms with the news out of New York.
“These stories seem so out of character for the man I know … not at all am I coming from a place like ‘I don’t believe them.’ These are very serious allegations. There appears to be a pattern here. It appears that this is something that has a long history.
“When people tried to bring these things up in the past, apparently they weren’t listened to. And I find that horrifying.”