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Firehouse Theatre Planning


I have followed the story of Carol Piersol’s ouster from the Firehouse Theatre Project off and on since it broke (“Burning Down the House, Cover Story, Jan. 16), and I am stunned that the board of directors actually thinks that to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs is the way to take the company to the next level.

My background with Firehouse goes back to late 1993 when, as a performance space planner and designer with Artec Consultants, a theater and acoustics consulting company in New York, I led our team in preparing a study to convert the firehouse to an actors’ theater, working mostly with Bill Gordon. After completing the project, I stayed in touch with Carol Piersol to follow the company as it settled in and set about the business of creating great theater.

In late 2010, Carol invited my newly formed theater consulting firm, Planning Stages, to conduct a Condition Assessment and Long Range Facilities Plan. The theater had taken possession of the building the year before when owner Roy Sutton donated the property, and Carol explained that they were excited to finally be able to plan and undertake long-awaited changes in the building.

The “Burning” article quotes those who speak poorly of Carol’s stewardship of the building, of her lack of vision for the future and her knee-jerk style of decision-making. What I experienced in the course of our 2010 study, however, was nothing of the sort. For six months, Carol and I worked together in a methodical, thoughtful and deliberate manner to make best use of the building.

Planning Stages developed three separate designs for expansion of the Firehouse facilities to be considered for action by the board of directors, but it did not act to acquire the adjacent building. All options are exciting in their own right, there are other options not yet studied in detail, and the company could benefit greatly from any. What I find inconsistent with the article and my direct experience is characterization of Carol Piersol’s stewardship as knee-jerk, and faulting her for not acquiring the Nationwide building next door. We worked very hard to develop these exciting designs, and for my site visits that were to conclude with board meetings, they did not have quorums.

As opposed to accusing Carol of not acquiring the adjacent building, perhaps the more appropriate question is, “Why did the board not acquire the building?”

William B. Allison III,<
Principal Consultant
Planning Stages LLC

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