Joy, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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An increase in conversations on diversity indicates that people are starting to come round to the importance of more than a token few woman and people of colour on our stages. White male dominance in theatre is increasingly being called out, with some small and mid-sized venues and companies leading the way on diversifying their work. But physical disability draws less attention in the diversity debate, and learning disability even less so.

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Mendoza, Southwark Playhouse

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by guest critic Nastazja Somers

A Shakespeare expert, friend of mine always says, “I love Shakespeare but I hate watching it, most of the time it bores me”. And isn’t it the truth? I get to see a lot of the Bard’s plays and most of the time I leave theatres feeling uninspired and craving a surprise. I yearn for Shakespeare productions that will move audiences whilst placing them in a centre a collective experience.

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Our Fathers, Traverse Theatre

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by guest critic Liam Rees

Think about your parents, or a parental figure. How have they impacted who you are now? Whether positive or negative some mark will inevitably and irrevocably remain.

Now consider the effect of growing up in a religious home, specifically as the child of a minister. The stereotypes that come to mind are either that they’ll dutifully keep the faith, join the ministry or violently rebel, like Nietzsche proclaiming ‘God is dead’ or worse, put those oratory skills to use in the theatre. Performers, and children of reverends, Rob Drummond and Nicholas Bone seem to exist somewhere in between the stereotypes.

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Feature | ‘No More #Notallmen’: an open letter from men in theatre

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In light of recent reports of abuse, it has become apparent that many of us have failed to engage with the dark truths that hide beneath the surface of of the theatre industry. Action needs to be taken regarding the treatment of our female colleagues. Men in our industry need to listen, build awareness and stop trying to define others’ experience. We need to learn how our behaviour and language can affect women negatively. We must respect their perspective rather than getting defensive and telling our female colleagues that they are wrong.

This is on all men, and up to all men, to actively stop abuse and harassment. No woman should feel that the male gaze defines her talent and potential to succeed, but it is not enough to simply think this. It is time for all of us to make this happen at all levels.

No more #notallmen.

It’s time for those responsible to face the consequences of abusing their position. We will fully support anyone wishing to come forward and ask for help, allow them to tell their story, and help them take any action possible to stop it from happening again, both to themselves and to others.

We are asking for the creation of an independent, unbiased HR for the creative industries via The Arts Council (or similar body) to help those employers and employees without these resources and provide a vital source of support and recourse for those who desperately need it.

We won’t accept or excuse the behaviour of ‘characters’ regardless of status. We will end the fear of exclusion that has for so long propped up and protected the abusers. That ends now.

Claims that inappropriate language and behaviour are just ‘banter’ is harmful. It is this mindset that allows problems to fester and grow. They must be tackled by all of us head on, whenever and wherever we come across them.

We will work to ensure a safe, welcoming environment of expression. We will listen and not talk over, not justify, and not ignore rumours. Instead, we will reach out to those affected and offer our support.

We are now in the process of creating a living policy document, a link to which we will send out in the next few weeks. In addition to this document, the website that it sits on will also include links to sites and resources that may be useful in whatever capacity. They may include confidential advice services, legal support for anyone who wishes to speak out, or policy and avenues that can be taken regarding HR to seek further information.

We acknowledge our ignorance in this area. We need, request and would greatly appreciate any input, ideas and guidance to help create a charter of principles. These will create the impetus for us all to take meaningful, tangible actions that can be adopted by us all so that we can effect real change.

This is not perfect; it’s a start, not a conclusion, to the problem – let’s talk, listen, learn and together build a new industry that is all the things we imagined the arts were when started out.

Let us be kind, let us be human.

Signed:

Daniel Perks, Tommo Fowler, Will Adolphy, Martin Derbyshire, Leon Fleming, Andrew Darren Elkins, Luke Barnes, John Donnelly, Hector Moyes, Tim Cook, Niall Phillips, Alistair Wilkinson, Alex Dowding, Carl Woodward, Adam Morley, John Byrne, Roberto Iandi, Matthew Dunster, Paul Chesterton

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Skin Tight, Hope Theatre

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A couple wrestle each other with all the affection and aggression that only a couple who have been together for a long time can. It’s tender, brutal, unrestrained and familiar. They each know exactly what the other will do next, and how to wind them up. But it will soon end, as one of them has to leave soon.

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Tryst, Tabard Theatre

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George Joseph Smith was a petty thief and con man who preyed on the most vulnerable women he could find. He would win their love, persuade them to elope, then strand them on their honeymoon after cleaning out their bank account. In exchange, these women who were lonely and insecure, would have a wedding night of bliss. He thought this was more than fair.

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