OTTAWA — The board of directors of the Great Canadian Theater Company last week announced the firing of the company’s artistic director and general manager, “effective immediately.”
Nobody will explain why. Board members will not, although some have said the parting was “by mutual consent.” The two who were fired — a.d. Lorne Pardy and managing director Charles McFarland — have been similarly silent, possibly because comment could jeopardize any financial settlement linked to their early departure.
Board representatives would say only that Pardy, who has been a.d. for the last five years, will continue as an artistic associate. No official statement has been issued on whether McFarland will be associated with GCTC in any capacity.
The program for the world premiere of Dave Carley’s “The Last Liberal,” which opened Thursday, did not contain Pardy’s name. Instead, Arthur Milner, a former artistic director of the company, was listed as interim a.d.
Because McFarland directed “The Last Liberal,” he was mentioned in the program, but his biographical note placed his three-year tenure as managing director in the past.
GCTC, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is scheduled to move into a new theater next year. Until his sudden removal, McFarland was co-chair of the capital campaign and project director for the new theater.
He and Pardy, whose programming has garnered critical acclaim and set numerous box office records, are widely credited with the success of the fundraising to date as well as GCTC’s heightened profile. Construction of the Irving Greenberg Theater Center,named in honor of the family that donated C$2.5 million ($2 million) to the new facility, has not yet begun.
Board representatives have said Milner and a former GCTC general manager, Nancy Oakley — brought back on a one-year contract to replace McFarland — will take over the capital campaign, in conjunction with the board’s building committee. Board members also indicated they do not expect the firings to have an adverse effect on fundraising efforts.