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.

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Feature | ‘I was abused at drama school.’

by an anonymous female actor

Do you know the man who has charm, and wit, and a presence unlike any other in the room? Do you know his charismatic one-liners? His banter that fits in well with whichever group of people he’s entertaining today? His ability to relate to you specifically, to make you feel special, important?

That man was one of my drama school tutors and he abused me.

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Feature | An open letter to Music Theatre Wales

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by Paulina Brahm

A letter to Music Theatre Wales:

I’d also like to engage The British Council and additionally Birmingham Repertory and
Hackney Empire in my letter, as both Birmingham Repertory and Hackney Empire are Arts Council-funded.

I’m Paulina Brahm; an Asian-American actress, singer, and voiceover artist. I trained in
voice and acting in New York City; acting under much-missed Broadway director Gene
Frankel and voice under leading spinto soprano Dolores Mari of the New York City Opera. I am a full lyric soprano with coloratura flexibility and I now live, work and sing in the UK.

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Day One at Buzzcut Festival

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Actually, it’s the second day of the live art festival at the Pearce Institute in Glasgow but due to work, I couldn’t make the opening day. So in order to save travel time, I lost by Megabus Gold virginity and took the overnight sleeper coach. Unceremoniously dumped in Buchanan bus station at 6:30 am after an intermittent night’s sleep, I chugged a coffee (after being laughed at for attempting to order a flat white) in the station caf before heading to my digs, then navigating an unfamiliar city’s public transport across town to the Pearce Institute.

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Feature | No, Dominic Cavendish – You Are the Thought Police

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by Dr. Jami Rogers, University of Warwick

Dominic Cavendish can rest assured: he will not lose the opportunity to see his favourite (white) male actors in leading Shakespearean roles. After all, what producer would refuse Kenneth Branagh the chance to play Leontes in The Winter’s Tale or stop inviting Ralph Fiennes to work his way through the classical canon? The star system remains overwhelmingly skewed towards the (white) male and, as such, any (white) male classical actor who fancies it will most likely be first in line for a West End Shakespearean lead. Antony Sher has just played King Lear and Simon Russell Beale showed us his Prospero, to name two more male classical actors who are not exactly short of Shakespearean work. Cavendish’s opinion piece is misguided in its assertion that men are an endangered species on the classical stage – and somewhat light on facts.

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Feature | Barker’s Play Doesn’t Erase Minorities – The Print Room Does

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by Daniel York

I actually sat down and read In The Depths of Dead Love last night.

If anything, I’m even more angry now. The argument put forth by the Print Room is that, although the play is set in ancient China and the characters have Chinese names, the characters are not “Chinese” and it’s a very “English story”.

Is this true? Well, there are a lot of “deep bows” and talk of emperors but reading the work leaves me wondering just exactly how ethno-specific a play would have to be before the people who programmed and presented this one would consider that, yes, we might just have to cast some actors who aren’t actually Caucasian and middle-class.

The thing that really does disgust me, though, is the Print Room’s argument that they should have the right to cast “the best actors for the roles, independent of ethnic origin”. Leaving aside that being “independent of ethnic origin” appears to be a privilege that only applies to white people, we have the Print Room citing Christopher Hurrell’s defence that, “the characteristics [Barker’s play] seeks in actors are not social, cultural or ethnic—they’re technical, aesthetic and artistic.”

Let’s just pause there. Would it have to be written in pidgin English before the demands were relegated to “social, cultural or ethnic”?

And this is what is utterly despicable about the whole argument I’ve had so many times in the past and, I hope, not too many more in the future: the sheer racial and social snobbery embodied by organisations like the Print Room and the Wrestling School when they assert that they cast “the best actors for the role”. What they’re actually saying is “you little ethnics just aren’t up to the job”.

This would be bad enough but we’re now all pretty much certain that they never met or considered any actors of any other ethnic background other than white Caucasian for this production. This play which was produced on the radio in 2013, which Christopher Hurrell maintains was given a reading at the Print Room in 2013. They’ve had FOUR YEARS to develop this. FOUR YEARS in which it looks as if they never once even considered casting actors who weren’t white. I presume, they never once considered that actors who weren’t white Caucasian were up to the “technical, aesthetic and artistic” demands of the play.

The racial and social snobbery is compounded by the Print Room alleging that the protests have come from “some members of the public” when in fact it’s mainly members of the theatre community. When they argue that the references to China are merely “oblique”. When they give trite lectures about The Great Man being a “fabulist” whose work “is poetic and often difficult to pin down in time or place”.

Yes, we do understand all those things. Because we’ve actually read a few books too. We understand the arguments perfectly because, believe it or not, we’re “artists” as well.
And, as artists, we politely but firmly reject this cultural ethnic elitist high-handedness.

Please join us in in our protest this Thursday Jan 19th. If you can’t physically make it (or even if you can) please partake in the “thunderclap” social media protest.

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.

Editorial | An Open Letter to the Print Room

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I never make New Year’s resolutions. They work for other people and that’s great, but they aren’t my thing. But Daisy Bowie-Sell’s tweet from a few days ago asking what theatre’s resolutions should be for 2017 resonated with me. An industry making resolutions? Now that’s something I can get behind – people working together for a common goal is what theatre is about on a microcosmic level anyway, and more unity is surely a good thing in a world becoming increasingly polarised.

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