BEVERLY — Beverly police and the DA’s office confirmed Monday they are looking into allegations of inappropriate behavior regarding the now-former artistic director of a local children’s theater company and some of his former students.
The Boston Globe initially reported Sunday that 58-year-old Burgess Clark, who has homes in Vermont and Beverly, resigned last week as the longtime artistic director of Boston Children’s Theatre. His resignation last Tuesday came two days before an anonymous email was sent to the theater’s board of directors describing experiences of 17 former students, according to the Globe.
Three of the accusers say they were kissed or inappropriately touched by Clark during private lessons or at his Vermont home, according to the Globe. The alleged conduct occurred when most of the students were 14 to 18 years old.
A slew of Cape Ann teens have appeared in the theater’s productions over the years. The Globe article did not say where the teens making the allegations were from.
“We are deeply troubled by what has been alleged and have contacted law enforcement authorities so that the allegations can be investigated,” said Jim Solomon, the board’s interim president, in a statement.
The statement explained that the theater received an anonymous email complaint on Oct. 31 about Clark’s alleged behavior, and that he had resigned two days earlier. Since Sept. 15, he had been on a six-week medical leave.
“We will continue to make the safety and security of the students in BCT programs our first priority,” wrote Solomon. “We have full confidence in our executive director, Toby Schine.”
Solomon also promised they would cooperate fully with law enforcement and declined to comment further so as not to compromise the investigation.
Clark did not respond to reporters’ requests for comment, and an attorney who previously represented Clark told The Associated Press he has not contacted her.
On Monday, Beverly police released a brief statement saying they were aware of the allegations made to the theater company regarding Clark. They were also aware the company maintains its headquarters in an office at the Cummings Center and conducts performances at Beverly venues and the surrounding area.
Department spokesman Michael Boccuzzi said police are working with the Essex District Attorney’s office to determine where exactly the alleged incidents occurred.
Carrie Kimball, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office, said much the same thing.
“We were made aware of the allegations from the Beverly police late last week. We’re working with them on it. My understanding is we’re still trying to figure out where these things happened,” she said.
A biography of Clark, which has since been removed from the theater’s website, describes him as a “30-year theatre professional” who was nominated in 1991 and 2005 as a “Distinguished Teacher in the Arts” by the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts. He has won or been nominated for various playwriting awards.
In 2013, Clark received an award for Best New Play for his adaptation of “Reflections of a Rock Lobster,” a play based on the true story of a student who sued a Rhode Island high school in 1980 for the right to escort his boyfriend to the prom.
Clark was the director of education and children’s programs at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly until he left in 2008 to join Boston Children’s Theatre.
Clark previously quit his job in 2017 in protest, claiming censorship. He told the Globe at the time that some board members demanded he delete a brief nude scene in a production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” that he was directing. A 1963 stage adaptation of the novel didn’t call for nudity, but Clark wanted the main character to drop a towel around his waist to express defiance. Clark later returned to his job and several board members ultimately resigned.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.