Smith fires theater pioneer Sam Rush, citing ‘serious’ violations of sexual misconduct policy

  • Sam Rush, playing "Rick," rehearses a scene from "Building the Wall" Sept. 7, 2017, at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Monday, November 06, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — New Century Theatre’s artistic director and co-founder Sam Rush was fired from Smith College late last week.

“Following an investigation that confirmed allegations of serious violations of the college’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, the college immediately terminated Mr. Rush’s employment,” Smith College spokeswoman Stacey Schmeidel said in a statement Monday. “He is no longer employed by Smith College. The college has offered support to the individual involved.”

Rush had been working as the theater department’s production and publicity manager. Schmeidel declined to say what his most recent role was with the college. Rush’s biography page with the college has been deleted. An archived version of the page from December 2016 states that Rush had been part of the Smith College community since 1991 and took over the role of production and publicity manager in 2013. He previously served as the production coordinator from 1997 to 2013, according to the page.

Calls to Rush and New Century Theatre and members of its board of directors went unreturned Monday.

The college and the theater’s relationship ended in October 2016 in what Rush called at the time “an amicable divorce.” At the time, the college said the split came “in light of undisputed policy and contract violations.” Smith spokesman Sam Masinter declined to elaborate on those “violations.” Masinter said in an email at the time that “Smith College’s hosting of New Century Theatre does not/did not imply any administrative oversight of the program.”

When asked Monday if the severing of ties with New Century was related to the current investigation, Schmeidel declined to say.

Rush and playwright Jack Neary founded New Century Theatre in 1991. The company produces new plays as well as fresh interpretations of other comedies and dramas and in the past few years has branched out to children’s theater.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.