The former Monty Python star had been due to direct a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical at the London theatre in April alongside Leah Hausman.
On Thursday (28 October), it was announced that the production would no longer be taking place, with no reason for the cancellation given.
However, The Stage now reports that The Old Vic pulled the production following unrest from members of staff who felt that Gilliam’s comments to the press regarding the #MeToo movement, trans rights and racism were at odds with the theatre’s ethos.
Staff and regular freelancers reportedly complained about Gilliam’s involvement as soon as the production was announced back in May 2020, with an all-staff meeting being held on the same day.
“Ahead of any season announcement, senior management at the Old Vic would meet with the directors who are programmed to work in the season as a matter of course to discuss our culture and values. This happened with the co-directors of Into the Woods, Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman,” a spokesperson said.
In an interview with The Independent last year, Gilliam sparked backlash after describing the #MeToo movement as a “witch hunt” and saying that he should be able to identify as a “Black lesbian in transition”.
At least one person is believed to have resigned due to the theatre’s involvement with Gilliam, although The Old Vic has refused to comment on this.
Sondheim is said to have initially approved the production after being impressed by Gilliam’s ideas for the production.