Theater director steps down

April 12, 1997


Staff Writer

A series of resignations that has recently plagued the Maryland Theatre continued with the departure of the newly hired managing director of the downtown landmark.

Don Wiswell resigned, effective Friday, after about a month on the job.

Theater Board President Pat Wolford said board members will discuss the vacancy at a meeting on Thursday.

Wiswell, who owns the Washington County Playhouse in Hagerstown, said Saturday that his parting with the theater board of directors was amicable.

Wiswell, who was part-owner of the playhouse, said he recently became sole owner. "To avoid a conflict of interest - a man can't serve two masters - the board and I agreed it would be in the best interests of all concerned if we amicably parted company and wished each other well," he said.


Wiswell said he talked extensively with the board before resigning.

Wolford said Saturday that since Wiswell was "still on probation and in training" when he resigned, there's no urgency in filling his post.

"He was part owner of the playhouse when we first talked to him, and then he recently became full owner," Wolford said. "It was too much for him - running the playhouse and theater both."

Wolford said Wiswell has also been "acting every night" in the current production at the playhouse.

Wolford said board members will talk Thursday about how they want to go about replacing Wiswell. She said she didn't know whether the opening would be advertised again. The last time, Wolford said, the theater got eight to 10 applications.

Wiswell was hired for the theater post in early March.

He was directed by the board not to speak with the media. Wolford said some creditors had expressed concern about newspaper articles that focused on the theater's debt.

Board member W. Kennedy Boone said at that time that the no-talking policy as it concerned Wiswell was subject to change, once he became familiar with his job.

Wiswell's resignation is the latest in a series of events to befall the theater.

Last June, the board dismissed Kelley Gilbert as executive director.

In January and February four of 11 board members resigned. Two of them, Karen Giffin and Sue Wright, said they quit in part because of philosophical differences with the rest of the board.

They said they both favored hiring another executive director for the theater, while the board decided instead to hire a managing director.

The financially-troubled theater recently took out a loan to cover a $130,000 balloon mortgage due in May.

The Herald-Mail Articles