When American producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual abuse it started a social media campaign of #metoo. Women (and some men) around the world started supporting the victims of sexual abuse by admitting they too had been exposed to sexual misconduct, abuse or rape. It helped those impacted feel more like survivors than just victims. As a result, more people started to speak up about what they had experienced or witnessed in their workplaces. There was a new-found strength to speak out and share their stories, in the hope that this would finally end. Other big names followed. It was only a matter of time until Australian celebrities were being named.
Yesterday news broke that allegations had been made by three of the cast of The Rocky Horror Show regarding inappropriate conduct by Craig McLachlan. While McLachlan has denied all the allegations, he has stepped out of the show for the duration of the tour. There has been no announcement regarding who will take on this leading role. A full statement is available on the GFO website: https://gordonfrostorganisation.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/MediaStatement20180108.pdf
It is not the intent of this article to discuss in any detail what took place and the content of the allegations. The mainstream media have well and truly covered this and it is now a matter for the police.
In the past 24 hours, I have been inundated with messages from people about the matter, asking did I know, what did I think, what was going to happen next, who else knew and why didn’t they speak up? It seems more questions have been raised than we currently have answers.
Inappropriate behaviour should not be tolerated in any workplace. These latest accusations should serve as a reminder to us all to not tolerate inappropriate behaviour – not only when we are the victims, but more importantly, when we are the witnesses. It’s fine to add a hashtag to your social media account to show solidarity, but it’s time for the collective voices to stand up and speak out for the victims when we first see something happen.
But we can do more: we can change.
It’s time that all theatre companies – whether professional or community – ensure they are a safe place for everyone. That means living and working under a code of conduct that would be standard practice in so many other occupations. It requires a work environment where it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that all are safe and treated with respect and dignity; a work environment that has an “open door” policy where employees know they can safely express their concerns without fear, condemnation or loss of job.
Theatre People stands for a safe theatre workplace for everyone.