After 28 years, Nicholas Pynes is out as Director General of Theatre Lac Brome.

Did he jump or was he pushed? Sources claim he was firmly shoved, though Pynes had been contemplating stepping down for some time.

His replacement is Dominic Boulianne, an internationally renowned Quebec pianist who has put his musical career on hold, moved to Knowlton and started English classes. Established directors in the Montreal area had reportedly coveted the job, but Boulianne took the plunge by actually relocating.

As with any complex and emotional situation, there is a lot of “he said, she said” clouding the shuffle, but it is generally agreed there was a shortage of professional protocol in the abruptness of the termination, September 4. Pynes had offered to stay on in advisory capacity to wrap up ongoing projects and help Boulianne in a complex transition, but it was refused.

Instead, says theatre board member Janet Dedicik, Pynes has agreed to be available to answer a limited number of questions as Boulianne navigates the ropes. They are, after all, friends, cultural colleagues and professionals. Otherwise, he is on his own.

A central rationale for the board decision is the theatre moving from a limited summer season to staging events year-round. “We need someone to come in and open the door every day,” says Dedicik. Pynes and his wife winter in Florida or abroad. Boulianne will be a full-time presence.

“I am very excited to be here,” Boulianne said, his ambitions are readily apparent. “The theatre has such huge potential.”

For his part, Pynes is “really happy to be out” of the indebted enterprise he helped build and looking forward to “enjoying myself and having a good time.” He will continue working with Le Festival de Cinéma Knowlton; playing and tuning pianos; and developing projects on his own.

He is receiving one year’s severance for 28 seasons of often critically acclaimed and sold-out plays, and for his instrumental work in the construction of the theatre’s recent addition. It was funded in part by the federal government’s Heritage Canada, with a mandate to stage a majority of productions in English.

If that mandate changes, or the theatre declares bankruptcy, it is required to pay back the cost of the building. This is part of the job the new director general confronts. More on Boulianne after he has had a few months to settle in.