Longtime Dallas theater practitioner dismissed for inappropriate behavior

Longtime Dallas theater practitioner fired for inappropriate behavior

Lee Trull
Lee Trull is no longer employed at Dallas Theater Center. Photo by Michael Hiller

Lee Trull, a longtime employee at Dallas Theater Center, was terminated on December 4 for "inappropriate behavior," according to a statement from the theater company.

DTC states that it received a complaint about Trull's behavior and initiated an investigation. It was determined that the alleged conduct was in violation of company policies, and his employment was terminated. DTC says that it remains dedicated to taking any action necessary to ensure a safe workplace free of harassment for all employees.

"Theater is a collaborative art form that requires each person to bring his or her whole self to work and participate in the creative process," reads the statement. "Dallas Theater Center is committed to providing the type of environment necessary for the creative process to flourish. Anyone who contributes to an unsafe, unwelcome, or inequitable environment not only violates DTC's policies, but also undermines DTC's fundamental goal of creating the highest quality theatrical art that deeply engages our community."

Some of the complaints are detailed on Dallas performing arts blog TheaterJones.

Trull, who served as director of new play development, had worked for the company for more than a decade. In September, he announced his plans to leave the Tony Award-winning organization in summer 2018 to "to further his artistic work, both locally and nationally, as a playwright, actor, director, and dramaturg."

He began his career at DTC as a member of its acting ensemble, then was named artistic associate in 2008 at age 28. A promotion to casting director came next, and then director of new play development.

He is the director of this year's production of A Christmas Carol, which runs through December 28, and was set to be a producer of DTC's upcoming shows Fade, Frankenstein, and White Rabbit Red Rabbit, in addition to developing local playwright Jonathan Norton’s new play Penny Candy for 2018-2019 season. There is no word yet on who will assume those duties going forward.

In addition to being a producer of multiple world premieres (Fortress of SolitudeStagger Lee; Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical; Clarkston; Bella: An American Tall Tale; Hood: The Robin Hood Musical Adventure; and Miller, Mississippi), Trull was a co-playwright of Deferred Action with Cara Mia Theatre Co.'s David Lozano.

Trull was also scheduled to direct Second Thought Theatre's next production, Lucas Hnath's Hilary and Clinton. STT's artistic director is DTC resident acting company member Alex Organ. The company has since revoked the offer and released a statement:

Late last week, Second Thought Theatre learned of allegations of misconduct by Lee Trull. Due to the nature of those allegations, our leadership decided we could no longer entrust Mr. Trull with a position of authority, and this past Sunday we rescinded his offer to direct in our 2018 season.

Second Thought Theatre is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment where artists feel comfortable and confident creating alongside one another. We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment of any kind. It takes action by each of us as individuals and as a unified community to hold each other accountable, to have difficult conversations with each other, and to look inward at our own organizations so that we can make each other better and hold each other to higher standards. It's a conversation we as a community should have begun before the #metoo and #notinthishouse movements became necessary. While we are distraught that this conversation has to take place, we will not shy away from doing what is right. This is our community, and we want to do our part to make it better.

Our first priority is to ensure our artists feel secure and protected while working at Second Thought. In addition to removing Mr. Trull from our season, our staff and board of directors have already begun revisiting our harassment policy to re-confirm its efficacy, and we are working to improve procedures for better articulating the policy to company members at the beginning of every production process.

Kitchen Dog Theater, where Trull has been a longtime company member, initially suspended him pending a review, then issued an announcement his membership had been terminated. "Mr. Trull has been a company member at KDT since 2006 and there has never been a complaint about him in that time," reads the statement. "KDT has zero tolerance for harassment or discrimination of any kind and stands in solidarity with the women who have so bravely stepped forward and shared their stories to bring this behavior to light. KDT is committed to taking whatever steps necessary to make our house and our community at large a safe, nurturing environment to be an artist and create free from fear of sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination or retribution of any kind."

Stage West has also severed ties with Trull, who was set to direct A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City at the Fort Worth theater in March. A statement from artistic director Dana Schultes says, "Today, after reading the TheatreJones article in which the allegations were spelled out in detail, we are all shaken and stunned. He has collaborated with Stage West off and on for nearly 20 years. There has never been a complaint about him during his time in our house. We regard the newly published allegations very seriously and intend to sever our ties. We will announce hi

In the September announcement of Trull's originally scheduled departure, DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty said, "Lee has been among my most valued colleagues, collaborators and friends since his arrival at DTC 10 years ago...I can’t imagine my artistic tenure at DTC without Lee’s immense contributions. He’s been an integral part of DTC’s many successes and we are already looking for opportunities to continue his artistic relationship with DTC in future years."

For his tenure at DTC, Trull responded with, "I have loved my time at Dallas Theater Center and it's hard for me to imagine not walking into the beautiful Wyly Theatre everyday. However, after a decade on staff at DTC, it’s time for me to move on to new artistic opportunities and make space for fresh voices at the theater."

There is a Town Hall to discuss inappropriate conduct and developing a code of standards across Dallas-Fort Worth theaters that was already scheduled to take place on December 11, from 8-10 pm at Arts Mission Oak Cliff. Laura T. Fisher, coordinator of Chicago Theatre Standards, will lead the discussion, which will be moderated by TheaterJones editor and CultureMap contributor Mark Lowry. Dallas Theater Center is one of the 11 TCG Member Theatres of North Texas that helped coordinate the meeting, which is free and open to the public.