Theatre directors condemn sexual harassment and abuse of power

Directors of Abbey and Gate and Druid among those committed to challenging ‘unacceptable behaviour’

Willie White of the Dublin Theatre Festival: asked whether he was aware of any similar allegations of abusive behaviour in the Irish theatre world, he said: “I simply don’t know.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Willie White of the Dublin Theatre Festival: asked whether he was aware of any similar allegations of abusive behaviour in the Irish theatre world, he said: “I simply don’t know.” Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The directors of Ireland’s leading theatres and theatre organisations have joined together to issue a statement condemning sexual harassment and abuse of power in theatre in Ireland and internationally.

The signatories include Abbey Theatre directors Neil Murray and Graham McLaren, the Gate Theatre’s Selina Cartmell, Druid’s Garry Hynes, and Rough Magic’s Lynne Parker, along with Cian O’Brien of the Project Arts Centre, Willie White of the Dublin Theatre Festival and Kris Nelson of the Dublin Fringe Festival.

The statement was drawn up over the last few days in response to recent controversies over abuse in the film, theatre, media and entertainment worlds in the US and UK following revelations of the behaviour of film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Prominent figures including Amazon Studios head Roy Price, US political journalist Mark Halperin, British theatre director Max Stafford-Clark and others have been forced to step aside following allegations of lewd behaviour and harassment.

Safe places

The signatories of the statement say this behaviour is “always utterly inappropriate” and that theatres, like any work environment, need to be safe spaces for everyone.

“We are committed to working together to raise awareness and to create a safe culture and environment where unacceptable behaviour can be addressed and challenged. We are committed to supporting those who speak out, and to listen closely and carefully when they do.

“The welfare and wellbeing of everyone working in our theatres is of paramount importance. Therefore we wish to restate our collective commitment to ensuring that Irish theatres are safe, fair and equitable places for all those working within them.”

Weinstein case

Willie White of the Dublin Theatre Festival said the statement arose from discussions in the wake of the Weinstein case, “and more recently the Max Stafford-Clark one”, and that there was a lot of debate online about the subject.

Asked whether he was aware of any similar allegations of abusive behaviour in the Irish theatre world, he said: “I simply don’t know.”

He added that he and the other signatories would work with anybody who wanted to bring such issues to light.