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Speakers demand county defund Playhouse over vaccination 'passport'

Corrine Mandell speaks at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Jan. 3, 2022. Corrine Mandell speaks at a Board of Commissioners meeting on Jan. 3, 2022.

Speakers who compare vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany in the 1930s trained their sights on the Flat Rock Playhouse last week, urging the Board of Commissioners to defund the theater because it requires patrons to show proof of a vaccination or negative Covid test.

“There are a number of reasons why it’s wrong,” Beatrice Park said. “Request for health information is a violation of HIPAA. Businesses cannot legally ask for proof of vaccination. It’s a violation of our privacy and property rights as protected by the state and federal law.”
“It’s illegal to require someone to take an experimental drug and Flat Rock Playhouse is requiring people to get the Covid shot, which is an experimental drug,” Maureen Heaphy said. “I’m here to say that I do not want my tax dollars to go to Flat Rock Playhouse or any company or any organization or group that is acting illegally.”
The Board of Commissioners last year barred the health department from spending money to promote vaccines and has said that the decision should be left to individuals. Three board members expressed a willingness to revisit funding of the Playhouse, which received $30,000 from the county last year.
“I think you can see the board is very concerned about all these decisions,” chairman Bill Lapsley said. “This board has taken a number of actions with regard to the vaccination and masks and other issues related to Covid 19 and if the board chooses to take further action we will certainly keep everyone posted.”
Vice chair Rebecca McCall suggested that defunding the Playhouse would be a topic during the board’s budget retreat next week.
“I agree with a lot of what you said today,” she told the audience. “I want you to know that this board has been supportive of standing up against mandates. We have provided the opportunity to get the vaccine for people that want it. I believe people should have the choice to make that decision. I don’t believe in mandates. I don’t believe in requiring people, I don’t believe in what’s happening out at the Flat Rock Playhouse. I do know that the Flat Rock Playhouse is under the guidance of the actors guild, which is requiring this of them.” Unvaccinated theater patrons, she noted, can attend shows if they show a negative Covid test.
Commissioner Daniel Andreotta added: “I don’t think an actors guild probably based in New York is to be determining what we do on Henderson County soil.”
Lisa K. Bryant, the director of the Playhouse, said people are proving with their purses that they’re willing to abide by the theater’s public health guidelines to continue to enjoy shows.
“We doubled our sales projection in the final sales for this year’s last show,” she said. “We had a $76,000 day on Day 1 of the box office opening for this year’s season.
“Certainly there are people that don’t love the health requirement and we don’t love it but we are a union-producing theater and between trying to do our part to keep everybody as comfortable and as safe as possible as well as upholding the rules and guidelines of our union, it is what it is.”
Bryant said no one from the county has invited her to speak about the theater's vaccination rule.
“I would love to be able to speak with them,” she said. “We’re in a position where we either lose funding even in the best of days while we’re making up a $5 million deficit (from having no season in 2020 and 2021). We’re put in the middle here where we just want to produce really great shows and we need the support of anybody and everybody.”
A year ago, Bryant and her team met with commissioners to advocate for a grant.
“We had wonderful meetings with them last spring when we were navigating all of this and coming into what we hoped would be a more normal 2021 season,” she said. “Every commissioner met with us except for one and they were so gracious and so warm and understanding. And we were so grateful and we felt so encouraged and uplifted. We understand that the arts are a subjective entity for folks in what people feel should be supported by tax dollars or not. So I’m a little bit bummed that the same sort of opportunity for this had not been present in this particular round” if commissioners withdraw funding.
The need for funding is greater than ever because the Playhouse has been able to stage only a handful of shows since March 2020 and because it needs to invest even more to protect the audience.
“In all we’re looking down the barrel of $350,000 additional money in order to implement the things either we think are appropriate but also what our union is saying we need in place or we’re not going to perform for you,” Bryant said.

Speakers decry ‘crimes against humanity’

Here are remarks speakers made during public comment time at the Jan. 3 Board of Commissioners meeting:

Kathy Yurista quoted Dr. David Martin, “a man who has known what’s going on for over 20 years. I am handing you today, so it’s on the record and you can never say you didn’t know … an eight-count indictment proposal by Dr. Martin as written and will be taken to the Supreme Court. It’s an indictment that finds (U.S. and world health and pharmaceutical officials) guilty of crimes against humanity, domestic terrorism with bio-weapons, which are the virus and the vaccine, treason, racketeering and sedition, to name a few. You’ve all unknowingly become a part of this situation. … You were only following state and federal guidelines, not knowing what was really going on. Seems like it’s time to have a real serious conversation with Steve Smith and our health department, the City Council, the mayor, the sheriff, the D.A. and the School Board because you may not know this. Once this goes to the Supreme Court, you all are at risk of being personally tried and held liable. … Stop pushing the vaccine on the citizens of this county, especially the kids.”

Dana Lyons: “Your actions and your decision are being scrutinized by history. … The Nuremburg trials are waiting to see whose names are going to come across their docket, so there are repercussions that come from your decisions here and I would simply ask you to pause before you decide and think long term.”

Emily Nunzio, Laurel Park: “Governments around the world have encouraged and enforced a new form of segregation based on vaccine status. This is not only dangerously inhumane, there is no scientific basis for it. … The claim that the unvaxxed are a threat to the vaxxed is a glaring insanity because if the shots were truly safe and effective then those who’ve taken them wouldn’t be at risk from people who don’t. Decision makers who assume that the vaccinated can be excluded as a source of transmission are being grossly negligent … The Nuremburg Code is the code under which the whole world is supposed to operate. It is codified into some local and federal laws. Everyone needs to know that coercion and duress are considered de facto mandates and are illegal. It’s illegal segregation, medical apartheid. Attending a performance at the Flat Rock Playhouse where they demand your vaccine passport is medical segregation. This is illegal and you must not support businesses that do this with taxpayer funding.”

Jay Pfeil, an artist from Black Mountain: “I’m really dismayed with the illegal things that are going on with the arts and I would like to see all funding withdrawn from these people who are not following the law and the Constitution. We’re in a war and I think a lot of you on this board recognize that. I think some of you, I’m preaching to the choir here. There is proof going back 20 years showing a conspiracy to make a few psychopaths in this globe rich at the expense of the rest of us. This is huge crimes against humanity.”

Corrine Mandell: “I am sure there are other businesses across this magnificent county that have taken it upon themselves to mandate this nonsense and I am sure that this is just the beginning of more insanity unless we do something to stop it now. No vax passports, no masks. We must not allow this madness in Henderson County. We must stand strong, we must stand firm, we must be bold. I vote to defund any Henderson County business requiring vax passports.”

Carolyn Widener: The media censored a report from Japan “that 93 percent of people who have died after being vaccinated were killed by the vaccine. … I stand here tonight to urge you to say, No more, to what most people call the globalist agenda. They do not have our best interest at stake.”

Karen Hensley: “I don’t want my money going to any business that is requiring you to do anything we I don’t feel comfortable with. It’s a very divisive and discriminatory act and we don’t need that here in our town or our country.”

Laurie Fisher: “The greatest power of the news is omission and so many fine doctors have been censored unless you know where to listen to them. I’m basically here to exhort you all: Show up on the right side of history. Block the naivete. You’re being led by criminals. Wake up and smell the toxic fumes. They’re all around us and they’re going to get worse. Be the heroes, be the example for the rest of the country what a good Board of Commissioners can do to stop this World War IV in its tracks and bring peace and prosperity and freedom back to the country that we all love so very much.”

‘Shocked and saddened’ at Nazi comparison


After 12 speakers shared their opinions on conspiracies, two other people who had not previously signed up rose to object to the remarks anti-vaccination speakers made.

“I am shocked and saddened to hear people compare the holocaust and crimes against humanity and what took place in the 1930s and early 1940s in Europe and in Germany with our United States of America and our attempts to keep everyone safe by promoting vaccines, by asking people to have vaccines and then by telling them to have vaccines as a way to ensure the health of everyone in the community,” Rachel Poller said. “No one, so far as I know, has been forced to have the vaccine. They have been given options that include not going to the theater. You don’t have to go to the Flat Rock Playhouse if you don’t want to be vaccinated. I do want to go to the Playhouse and I do want to feel safe there. So we have clearly a conflict of beliefs. But to compare and repeatedly call the vaccines that you have been offered crimes against humanity to me is virtually criminal itself. I would just like to offer you all the strong belief, the absolute knowledge, that there are many, many people, many residents here in Henderson County, who have the same feelings and beliefs and thoughts and facts and information that I do.”

Lucy Butler said: “Over 800,000 Americans have died as a result of this awful virus and we also can’t have any idea at this point what the long-term effects are going to be. You serve the majority of Henderson County and I know that you take this responsibility very, very much to heart and I thank you for caring about all the citizens of Henderson County.”