By Amy Halpern
“What we do matters,” and that’s one of the things that makes Round House Theatre a great place to work, says Danisha Crosby, the organization’s director of education.
Crosby, who has been with Round House for 29 years, says she will never forget the “young man of color” who was so taken with the theater’s spring 2018 production of “Master Harold”…and the Boys—set in South Africa during the apartheid era—that he didn’t want to leave after the show. Or the teennage girl who was so fascinated by Round House’s 2019 production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—about a teen with Asperger’s syndrome—that she stayed behind to ask the lead actor how he managed to portray so accurately what math class felt like for her.
“We’re a ‘people first’ organization…whether it’s our patrons or our artists or our staff,” says Ryan Rilette, the theater’s artistic director. He has canceled shows when actors have had family crises, and he turned Labor Day weekend 2020 into “Labor Day week” when he saw that the theater’s 34 staff members were under stress. “By that point, everybody was deeply, deeply overloaded…so we said, ‘let’s take a week off,’ ” Rilette explains. “In our industry there’s the idea that the show must go on; we really try to practice that the show really should go on, but not at the expense of people’s [mental and physical] health.”