Brandon Burk, artistic director of the Onyx Theatre—who has done some stellar work there, including a recent, much-praised production of Sweeney Todd—has left his duties at the theater due to unusual circumstances. Burk says he was on a work-release program in Las Vegas after having served prison time for a drunken driving conviction that resulted in a death. However, his possession of an iPad—a violation of the conditions of his work-release—is sending him back to prison.
Following is a letter Burk wrote to the Las Vegas theater community explaining the situation, posted on Facebook Thursday by Las Vegas Review Journal theater critic Anthony Del Valle.
My fellow LV Theatre Community Members:
I know there many questions concerning my recent abrupt departure from the Onyx, and my good friend Tony Del Valle has been keeping some of you informed as much as he can. However, I feel answers are usually best served directly from the source. Many of you were already aware of my circumstances. For those who were not, I will give a brief summary.
In 2007 I was responsible for the death of a man in a DUI related accident. The following year I was convicted and sentenced to 65 to 170 months in the state penitentiary. I spent the next four years in a prison camp in Carson City. Once I fell within 18 months of my parole eligibility I was transferred to a work-release program in Las Vegas called Casa Grande. There I was allowed to leave for work every day and then return to the facility. It was during this time that I was granted the privilege of being hired as artistic director of the Onyx Theatre by owner Michael Morse—a man with a huge heart who shares my passion for live local theater.
After nearly 8 months of service in that position, I have regretfully let you down. At the end of January during a random inspection of my work place, I was found in possession of an iPad. While this is not a crime for most people, as an inmate it is illegal to possess a telecommunications device. I was aware of the rules that forbade me to have the device and by having it I risked both the privileges and freedoms I had been granted, as well as the well-being of the Onyx itself…
I’ve let down some very important people in my life and have many amends to make as a result; the community as a whole is surely on that list. You have all been extremely supportive of everything I’ve tried to accomplish at the Onyx and, as such, have provided me with an opportunity to practice what I love as a member of such a caring community. I apologize sincerely for taking that for granted.
It’s still unclear exactly how long I will be away; hopefully, only until the end of the year. In the meantime, I remain in constant contact with Tony and with the Onyx’s now theater manager Lysander Abadia. I will continue to be involved in the decision-making process there as artistic director as Lysander, I and the incredible staff still share a similar vision, mission and passion for that beautiful space. Some of the shows we had planned for this year have been put on hold temporarily but we are already planning equally ambitious projects for the future.
Thank you so much for your support and for taking the time to read this. I hope to see you sooner than later.
Love and Art,