Michael Colgan: ‘This is not a case of tip of the iceberg’

Full text of former Gate artistic director’s reply to allegations made ‘under cover of anonymity’

The following is the full text of the section of the report into the behaviour of the Gate theatre's former artistic director, Michael Colgan, which details a summary of his reply to allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour.

The report, by independent workplace expert Gaye Cunningham, finds that Mr Colgan's behaviour included putting himself in too close proximity to staff and creating excuses for physical contact; making comments of a sexual nature to actresses; telling personal stories of a sexual nature; rubbing backs and placing "hand on knee while typing".

Michael Colgan’s reply

I met with Michael Colgan on 19 December 2017 and on 29 January 2018. On the latter occasion, alleged behaviours were put to him to afford him the right to reply.

He made a number of points summarised as follows:


He stated that as an artistic director you tell directors how to direct, actors how to act, writers how to write. But not being any of these, and there being no degree in artistic direction, you need to have a big personality.

He stated that he is a tactile person, he would be often seen throwing his arms around actors and writers. This was not confined to women. He denied shouting at staff or using profane language. He stated that he was a demanding boss, but thought that everyone liked him. He denied mood swings.

The workplace in No. 8 was a small workplace with no hierarchies or structure and he considered that he and the six women there were a team. He believed they were like a family and sometimes if they had a row they had a row and solved it like a family. He stated that they were a family and that was the way it was for 33 years and yes, he blurred the lines.

He stated that he now realises that he should have had a code of ethics, proper hierarchies and rules of conduct in place. He stated that he had high standards and that he was exacting.

He stated that there was an element of all powerfulness which was a result of one artistic director rather than having a separate general manager.

He stated that he was not politically correct. He stated that the type of work in theatre is personality driven. Actors are full of ego and when you don’t give them a job, they take it personally.

He agrees that some improvements should be made in the workplace particularly in relation to some one to go to in the event of bullying, e.g. stage manager, with the ability to have access to the board. The board should have played a stronger role in having processes and procedures of dealing with complaints and putting investigations in place.

He denies being a bully but regrets not putting a process in place for dealing with any complaints. He rejected outright allegations of sexual harassment.

Michael Colgan strongly rejected these allegations particularly when made under cover of anonymity. He further stated that this is not a case of “tip of the iceberg” where further hidden allegations may be made.