After The Chicago Reader story on the long-time actor abuse at Profiles Theatre appeared, Colin Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Bitter Lemons, published an editorial which, while not outright excusing the behavior and culture found at Profiles, claimed:
What everyone seems to be either ignoring or intentionally skirting with this bizarre story coming out of Chicago is this:
These were all consenting adults.
The editorial went on to state:
C’mon, people, where is the personal responsibility?
Most who read the editorial found the tone one of victim-blaming and the comments section at Bitter Lemons was filled with statements of condemnation.
Today we learned that the editor of our long-time media partner Bitter Lemons posted an article in reaction to the recent story of long-term abuse at the Chicago Profiles Theatre. The article has incited a serious response from and conversation within the Fringe community that requires us to re-evaluate our relationship with Bitter Lemons.
Providing a safe space is essential to our job. We do not condone abuse.
We believe that abuse is given an extended life when victims are told they are to blame. In solidarity with all individuals who have been victims of abuse, the Hollywood Fringe Festival will no longer work with or endorse Bitter Lemons.
If you have questions or concerns about this issue, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This development shows how serious the Los Angeles Theater Community takes The Chicago Reader story. The mood in Los Angeles today is one of solidarity with Chicago. No artist should ever feel unsafe in the creation of their work:
Updated June 11, 2016: Colin Mitchell has been removed as Editor-in-Chief of Bitter Lemons. According to a post on the website:
Bitter Lemons apologizes to all of those who have experienced victimization and thanks all of those who have spoken up to establish a loud standard.
Most importantly, Bitter Lemons will remove the article, leave the comments, and reevaluate its open forum policy.
The statement does not comment on the future role that Mitchell will play at Bitter Lemons.
Further Update June 11, 2016: Bitter Lemons re-posted Mitchell’s editorial but, inexplicably, scrubbed all comments and community reaction from it.
Update June 12, 2016: All previous comments on Mitchell’s editorial appear to be back up under the article.
Update June 28, 2016: The Chicago Reader interviewed both Mitchell and his business partner and Publisher Enci Box. During the interview Enci Box stated that Mitchell’s remarks were causing people to pull advertisements. Of Mitchell, she says:
Enci Box, admires him more than she understands him. “He comes from a military family where men don’t show emotions,” Box mused. “His idea of vulnerable is different—even though I did see him in that movie where he cried.”
Mitchell expressed no interest in writing for the site at this point:
“The site was basically mostly me anyway. Enci’s taken it over now so that’s worked out well and I’m moving on. I’m done writing about theater. I’ve got a novel, a play, a comic book in the works. I’ll stay on to the bitter end, but as far as day-to-day, I’m done.”