Marin Ireland Talks Sexual Harassment in World of Theater, Joins 500 Others in Actor's Equity Fight
Already a major topic in the workplace and beyond, sexual harassment and physical abuse is now reportedly on the rise in the world of professional theatre--or has it merely been overlooked the entire time?
In The New York Times, writer Patrick Healy reported on the burgeoning movement to help reduce the problem of sexual harassment and violence in professional theater. Having interviewed 45 performers, dancers, writers, directors and others, his findings are considered troubling to say the least.
Healy begins with actress Marin Ireland, a past Tony Award nominee and her relationship with fellow theater star, Scott Shepherd. Having started on a solid foundation, the affair turned tumultuous when Shepherd, in his cowardice, struck Ireland, knocking her to the floor.
One can imagine that the problem would be taken care of immediately--but as the violent history of abuse entails, it was swept under the rug like most other allegations in the workplace.
"While sexual misconduct and harassment policies have become more stringent in places from university campuses to dot-com start-ups, theater remains largely unregulated. And it is a unique work environment, one that asks employees to flirt and kiss, argue and fight, strip naked and simulate sex eight times a week for what can be months on end. After hours, sexual encounters are common among cast members; actors date one another, and directors sometimes date their actors. When powerful people behave badly, they have agents to protect them."
He goes on to cite how decentralized and disconnected the world of theater is and how difficult it is to peg how common these problems actually are.
In an effort to set a new line of discourse, Ireland and 500 other actors and other theater professionals are asking the Actor's Equity to institute more policies to help in their fight.
The actors also require that there is a statement at the beginning of all rehearsals clearly identifying how to file a complaint if one an incident were to arise.
Amanda Marcotte at Slate notes that Ireland's story is an extreme example in Healy's story, but is still important to help hone in on the culprit behind the harassing and/or abusing.
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