Edited for clairty
Monday is the monthly board meeting for our theater group. I'm expecting an attempted character assassination from a particular member.
A bit of background: I was the producer for our Christmas show, which was adapted for the stage by the director (whom I will call Sue), who is a fellow board member. Although I've worked with Sue on various projects over the years, it was always as performers. This was the first time we were ever on a production staff together. It was also her first time directing a large show (we'd both done one-acts before) and my first time producing. Sue turned out to be far more of a perfectionist and Type A than I ever expected, and whether that was from the stress of being a first time director or the time crunch (we had six weeks to rehearse), I don't know. The stress spread to the cast, leading to a near mutiny right before tech week, which resulted in some major changes right before the show opened.
To make matters worse, a major snowstorm, the first one of the year, was predicted for our single weekend of shows. We were only doing three- one Friday night, one Saturday afternoon, and one Saturday evening. Weather reports varied wildly, some stating that the storm would be bad early, others saying that the heaviest fall wouldn't be until late in the evening. Sue was sticking hard and fast to those predictions. It was hard to get her to discuss any contingency plans at all. The closest we came was that we as a production team would make a decision regarding the Saturday shows (Friday was supposed to be clear, and it was) after the matinee.
It was snowing lightly during the matinee, enough for snow to start accumulating on the ground. Instead of watching the snow, I watched weather reports on my smart phone. Reports still varied depending on which station or website one looked at, but the average was that the worst would begin between 8:00 and 10:00pm. Looking out the window, I decided to be optomistic and tell the cast that as of now we'd plan to go ahead with the evening show.
I live near the theater, so I walked home. Many people stayed there, or walked to a nearby restaurant so they wouldn't have to drive. At 5:15-5:30, I got a call from our evening's emcee- he was sorry, but the snow was getting heavier and he did not feel safe driving. He only lived about 2.5 miles from the theater. A few minutes later, I got a call from our box office manager- same thing. I called my brother, who is a police officer, and who had driven from the theater to his home after the matinee- a distance of about 15 miles. Used to driving in all conditions, he reported that the roads were, "treated, but slick". I also spoke with my father, a professional truck driver, who said that he and my mother were having trouble- their car was sliding on the main roads.
That was enough for me. As producer, it was at my sole discretion to cancel the show or not. I had first called Sue after the emcee and box office manager had dropped out to update her of the situation and suggest that it might be in everyone's best interest and safety to cancel the evening show. This suggestion went over rather poorly. I was very uncomfortable with the road conditions. Additionally, our theater does not have its own parking lot and there was an on-street parking ban. Any cast and audience members would have to park at local businesses that, while normally they don't mind sharing, there was a possibility their own plows would be out, and by parking there, people would have to cross one or two very busy streets and walk on unshoveled sidewalks. I didn't want to be responsible for someone slipping and falling any more than I wanted to be responsible for a car accident. I spoke with a few other members of the board, including the vice-chair, and they agreed with my train of thought and supported my final decision. I called Sue back, and not to sound too dramatic, one would have thought I suggested torturing small animals instead.
I immediately sent an email to the cast as a whole, as it was the fastest way to get in touch with all of them. I also walked back to the theater, where I knew most of them were. Signs were put up on the doors, and a notice placed on the theater group's website. Sue also came back to the theater, and quickly made it clear that my presence was not necessary or wanted. I restated (calmly and in front of witnesses) that I had cancelled solely out of concern for public safety and that I was sorry if she took that personally, and left. A few days later, I was "uninvited" to the general cast party, though I did send a pizza through a neutral party. (My thought there was that I still would have liked to be there and this was not the cast's fault. I was afraid if I did go Sue would either say something or make the tension between us obvious, and I did not want to put the cast in the crosshairs.)
/BG. (Sorry about the length.)
So. Monday is the board meeting. It will be the first time since that night I will have seen anyone from the theater group. As sure as the sun will rise, I know Sue will come after me over this. I know I have some supporters, and I stand by the decision I made, but what can I say/how can I prepare to keep calm and cool in the face of what is sure to be emotional blackmail and backlash?