There’s new leadership at Harlequin Productions, which is beginning to regroup after the resignation of founder Scot Whitney, who admitted he brushed off accusations that playwright Israel Horovitz harassed actresses at the Olympia theater.
Actor-director Aaron Lamb of Seattle, the theater’s associate artistic director, is taking on a leading role in artistic decisions, while artistic director Linda Whitney will transition toward retirement, said Joe Hyer, a member of the theater’s board.
Lamb also will direct “Three Days of Rain,” opening May 3, which was left without a director when Scot Whitney resigned.
The company also will split the management of business and art. Hap Clemons, who has been Harlequin’s development director, will serve as interim executive director and tend to business issues while the board begins a search for a permanent executive. Stellar Associates of Lacey is investigating what happened at the theater and recommending policy changes.
The Whitneys chose Lamb to succeed them well before the issues around sexual harassment surfaced last month.
In January, Lamb was named Harlequin’s associate artistic director, a move that was to be announced along with the unveiling of the 2019 season. That was to be the start of a five-year transition toward the couple retiring from the theater they founded in 1991.
“It was hoped that he could help lead Harlequin through the next generation,” Hyer told The Olympian. “We think he’s that talented and an incredible leader.”
“I am thankful to the universe that someone with the talent and qualifications of Aaron Lamb has joined the team,” Linda Whitney told The Olympian. “He has a deep love and respect for our company and is working hard to help us construct a framework in which we can build a future.”
Lamb, who works full time as a web developer for the University of Washington, is a familiar face to Harlequin audiences, having starred in 2015’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and 2016’s “The Last Five Years,” among others.
He’s been directing shows at the theater since 2013’s “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.”
He met his now-wife, actress Helen Harvester, while acting in 2009’s “The Mating Dance of the Werewolf,” his first role at Harlequin.
He’s learned a great deal while working at Harlequin, he said. “Scot and Linda have both taught me about uncompromising artistic integrity,” he said. “They've taught me what it means to have a strong work ethic and what it looks like to devote your life to that thing you love.”
He and Linda Whitney have been working together to revise the soon-to-be announced lineup for the theater’s 2019 season.
“Our message has to be about inclusion,” he said. “We need to be able to present work that reflects what we’ve learned.”
“I’m excited about the quality of work we’ll be able to do, and I’m excited about the social impact we can have and the dialogue we can start,” he said.