As the topic of sexual abuse and harassment continues to make international headlines following numerous allegations involving Hollywood and theatre producer Harvey Weinstein, the Royal Court Theatre has announced day of action in response. The free day’s programme – held on Saturday 28 October 2017 – will include a sharing session from 12 to 5pm, including curated online submissions, in the theatre’s main Downstairs auditorium, and simultaneously from 2.30 to 4pm in the Upstairs studio, an Industry Town Hall meeting to discuss policies and best practices.
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director Royal Court Theatre, issued the following statement explaining how the day came about and why action is needed within the theatre industry:
“Following last week’s revelations concerning Harvey Weinstein, it is time to confront the abuses of power that have been occurring in our own industry for years.
“I tweeted last week to ask what we should be doing and I was overwhelmed by the open and candid response from the many people who got in touch with me, sharing their stories and suggesting courses of action. What shocked me most was how many of those who approached me were fearful they’d be named and also of the significant negative implications speaking out could have for them. Despite those fears, they wanted to have their voices heard to prevent such abuses happening to those coming after them.
“Having set up and led major arts organisations over the last 20 years I have always had very clear policies on how to manage such abuses of power and how to empower my staff to have the confidence in dealing with and reporting such issues.
“Last year at the Royal Court, we had a company-wide meeting – a Town Hall, on sexual harassment in the theatre. The outcome of this session was a mutually agreed verbal code of conduct that all Royal Court staff are very clear on. One which eliminates the so-called grey areas that so often allow people to get away with abuses of power. That session gave those who are subject to such abuses clear avenues to confidently take further action.
“Sexual harassment, predominately carried out by those in power to people in positions junior to them, is systemic. It is across every part of our society. If it is not dealt with in an open way we have no hope of change, and change must happen.
“On Saturday 28 October 2017, we will be holding two events – an industry-wide Town Hall session, to pass on what we have learnt and the policies we agreed on from it, and to learn best practise from our peers. And a sharing – where those of you who wish to have your stories heard can have a space for them to be told. This event will be curated by Royal Court Associate Director Lucy Morrison drawing on the input of many of you who have so brilliantly offered up your support.
“The Royal Court exists to tell the stories that are otherwise unheard. We have therefore created an online forum where you can safely, and (if you choose), anonymously tell us your stories. Whether you consider it a big or small thing, if someone in a position of power over you has made you feel sexually compromised, or at all uncomfortable, then be brave, tell us what happened. We will take care of your story.
“As Erica Whyman said today in her article in The Stage: ‘I have a responsibility to make our theatre a place where none of us needs to think twice before calling out and addressing behaviour that we all already know is unacceptable.’
So come on let’s end this bullshit.”