MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Guthrie Theater has issued an apology for not condemning the racist remarks made by an audience member before a performance last week.
The Nov. 12 performance of “A Christmas Carol” was delayed for roughly 30 minutes after a woman hurled racial slurs at people sitting nearby.
Artistic Director Joseph Haj and Managing Director James Haskins wrote that their initial statement “failed to condemn the racist remarks hurled by the disruptive audience member. More importantly, we failed to apologize to audience, company members and staff who were harmed in our theater, particularly those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”
Twitter video of the incident went viral overnight; by Saturday morning it had been seen over 24,000 times. The Guthrie’s initial statement does not mention any racially-motivated language on the part of the audience member.
“We utterly condemn the racist statements of the individual and offer our deepest apologies to all who were negatively impacted,” the updated statement continues.
First play at the Guthrie in over 600 days. Still hasn’t been kicked out. pic.twitter.com/II4d2XJKjs
— Jake (@ekajmw) November 13, 2021
Video shows the woman yelling “get out of my country.”
Though an attendee on Twitter wrote that they weren’t sure how the incident started, “it was right as the lights were dimming to start the show.” Another person said that people in front of her took off their masks to take a selfie, and “this made her very angry and she decided to take her mask off because they were also ‘breaking the rules’.”
Two people in front of her took a selfie during the curtain speech (the director told people to put phones away, and keep masks on). This made her very angry and she decided to take her mask off because they were also “breaking the rules”
— Flo (@IsaBSACameroon) November 13, 2021
Haj and Haskins added that the Guthrie stands by the decision to wait for police to remove the person from the theater, and they are reviewing “all safety and security protocols and are planning enhanced training for all staff.”