New American Theater…a time of change

Last week’s announcement by New American Theater (NAT) Board Chairman Charles Granneman that Richard Raether, artistic director, and Jan Bacino, box office and group sales manager, had been terminated caught almost everyone completely by surprise. Comments ranged from Volunteer Laura Berg’s: “I saw a lot of talent leaving. The heart of NAT is gone”; to Margaret Raether’s: “We were unaware that anything was wrong. No one intimated that fund-raising should be a primary job for Richard. He first auditioned for NAT when he was 18 and was a part of the organization for many years. When notified of his termination, the board said his work as a director was excellent.”

The Raethers and many of the people I spoke with were mystified by the board’s decision and the basis for the dismissals. Ken Staaf’s long association with NAT makes him a reliable source of information, and he said, “We had no inkling… we were floored.”

Gail Dartez, an intrinsic part of NAT, leaves in August to pursue her career in Chicago. She and Raether, instrumental in the development of Young American Theater and the Theater in Education Program, will be sorely missed. Few have their experience and commitment to building a basis for the arts with opportunities for young people to learn their craft and perform in an artistic venue.

Dartez said: “Richard represented the essence and sensibility of NAT. The board doesn’t even know what they did. It makes no sense.”

The last vestiges of the “old” NAT disappear with the departure

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