Family Means: No One Gets Left Behind

I have been involved with theater most of my life. I started when I was in 5th grade and each year have done a number of different shows. Many of my performances took place in the same small town, community theaters. When I started as a freshman in high school, I started performing at Milburn Stone Theater at Cecil County College. The people there were absolutely amazing. They all treated me with such kindness and welcomed me with open arms. I stopped doing shows there after about three years as I started getting ready for my transition into college. Although I was not performing there anymore I continued to support my friends and attend many of the shows each year. Even with my absence, the volunteers and directors knew still knew me by name and greeted me as if I never left. The people there became another extension of my family. Recently, one of our family members has been taken advantage of.

Bambi Johnson, who was once the choreographer, but now artistic director, was fired from the theater. Bambi was in the middle of choreographing a show, Mary Poppins, when her dismissal was executed. The other directors told the cast of her departure, acting with no remorse or care that she was gone. The directors also gave no explanation to the cast as to the reasoning behind her leave. Even after constant efforts to discover why she was asked to leave, the directors still gave no comment to the matter. Since then, many volunteers and actors of the theatre have come together to support Bambi and try to get her reinstated. People have begun posting their favorite memories with Bambi, using the hashtag #ThanksBambi. This has grabbed so much attention from the outside community that many blogs and journalists have written articles about the whole debacle.

For my social action, I decided to also add to this conversation. Below is the status that I recently posted on Facebook.

“It has been a few years since I have performed on the Milburn Stone Theatre stage, but I have continued to attend the various shows every year in support of my friends. Recently, I found out about the dismissal of Bambi Johnson and am heart-broken. I remember the first show I did at Milburn: The Sound of Music. I can still recall the many wonderful dance rehearsals spent with the always positive Bambi. Her smile and energy made me excited to learn every night. Now, because of her dismissal, many of my fellow friends are no longer planning to support the local theater. I hate to see a place that used to give me such wonderful memories come crumbling down. I hope the school reconsiders their decision. Bambi is one of the sweetest and most hard-working person I’ve ever met. I am so grateful to be able to say that I have worked with her. I will always support her. #ThanksBambi #IstandforBambi #IfightforBambi”  

It has been said that Bambi is not commenting on any of these posts that tag her, however, I am curious whether she has been reading them. My goal behind this post wasn’t to take a different, more obscure position on an issue, nor was I hoping to stir the pot with other theater people and patrons. I just wanted to add to the conversation how important I thought Bambi was and how my own experiences reflect that. I was disappointed when I didn’t receive any comments from my old Milburn theater friends. I received only about 22 likes on my status and one share of my post from my random aunt. It seemed that hardly anyone saw it or cared to look at it.

The purpose of the hashtag is to hopefully grab the attention of the directors so that they see how many people Bambi impacts and how her dismissal will result in a rapid decline of volunteers and actors for future shows. As of right now, the directors have still yet to make a comment on the situation and Bambi’s firing. They seem to be very silent. I don’t know if these hashtags will make a huge difference when it comes to the reinstating of Bambi’s position, but I hope that at least the trustees of the school will begin to reconsider their actions.

Because of my contribution to the #ThanksBambi hashtag, I may be banned from the theater when it comes to auditioning and being in shows in the future. It was rumored that anyone who used this hashtag was being put on a blacklist. I don’t know whether this is true or not. However, after the lack of responses I recieved from my post, I don’t really know how meaningful my contribution was to the situation anyway. Other people who have still been heavily involved at the theater probably gained more reaction from their posts.

I hate to see a theater I once loved, be destroyed. I am a huge advocate for the arts and to see so many people confess that they would no longer audition or volunteer breaks my heart. But like I said before, each theater and show is like a family. And when you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.

Author: Amanda DeFilippis

I am a Sophomore currently studying Communications at the University of Delaware.

2 thoughts on “Family Means: No One Gets Left Behind”

  1. Amanda, Just about every aspect of this story is heartbreaking. I hope things work out for Bambi, the theater, and you. Maybe this is the sort of situation in which simply reaching out directly to her would have the most effect? ~Joe

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  2. I am sorry to hear about this- it sounds terrible! I think this was a great choice for the social action post since it is something that means so much to you that you can put passion into. From the perspective of someone who knows only the information provided by this piece, maybe your old theater friends are hesitant to comment on posts using #ThanksBambi due to the rumored banning? Good luck with this!

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