December 16, 2018

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Winnipeg theatre companies join harassment fight

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Tracey Loewen (left), Prairie Theatre Exchange’s general manager, and Jenna Khan, director of publicity, show some of the material from the Not in Our Space campaign at the theatre on Monday.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Tracey Loewen (left), Prairie Theatre Exchange’s general manager, and Jenna Khan, director of publicity, show some of the material from the Not in Our Space campaign at the theatre on Monday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/1/2018 (341 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

At least eight Manitoba theatre companies are pulling back the curtain to address sexual harassment and bullying at work as part of a new national campaign.

The Not in Our Space campaign, organized by the Canadian Actors' Equity Association (Equity) and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), was rolled out in the fall, but it has taken on a new sense of urgency after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled against Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre Company and its founding artistic director, Albert Schultz, last week.

Four actresses filed lawsuits alleging Schultz was a "serial sexual predator" who assaulted and harassed them for years. Schultz said he would "vehemently defend" himself in court.

"I think we are as shocked as most of our colleagues about these allegations and as distressed about the stories from these artists," said Camilla Holland, executive director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC).

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/1/2018 (341 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

At least eight Manitoba theatre companies are pulling back the curtain to address sexual harassment and bullying at work as part of a new national campaign.

The Not in Our Space campaign, organized by the Canadian Actors' Equity Association (Equity) and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), was rolled out in the fall, but it has taken on a new sense of urgency after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled against Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre Company and its founding artistic director, Albert Schultz, last week.

Four actresses filed lawsuits alleging Schultz was a "serial sexual predator" who assaulted and harassed them for years. Schultz said he would "vehemently defend" himself in court.

"I think we are as shocked as most of our colleagues about these allegations and as distressed about the stories from these artists," said Camilla Holland, executive director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (RMTC).

"This (Not in Our Space) campaign pre-dates recent events, but is obviously part of a broader conversation in the industry about the need for a safe and respectful workplace for all. PACT and Equity initiated this over a year ago, but it does feel quite timely."

RMTC, Rainbow Stage, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Shakespeare in the Ruins, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) and Theatre Projects Manitoba are all participating in the campaign, according to Sara Meurling, executive director of PACT, and Arden Ryshpan, executive director of Equity.

About 150 groups are promoting the initiative across the country, Ryshpan said.

"As the Canadian professional theatre community is very much a national one — with artists moving from theatre to theatre depending on their projects, with co-productions between theatres in different provinces and touring productions moving from city to city — it makes sense that we create a national initiative and share it across the country," Meurling said by email.

As part of Not in Our Space's campaign against bullying and harassment, theatres post brochures and posters around their venues outlining steps artists can take if they want to report abuse.

At Prairie Theatre Exchange, the information is posted on the actors' call board, general manager Tracey Loewen said.

While PTE hasn't dealt with any harassment allegations during her time there, Loewen said, it would rather be proactive by implementing safe workplace policies.

"If 2017 has shown us anything, it’s that these things are happening in different workplaces everywhere, and at PTE, we encourage both staff and contracted employees to have a conversation with management if there are ever any concerns," said Jenna Khan, PTE's director of publicity.

Not in Our Space is a zero-tolerance campaign that asks participating theatres to adopt a statement to that effect on the first day of rehearsal for any new production. Equity said the number of people coming forward has increased since the campaign began, but did not provide specific figures.

 

— With files from The Canadian Press

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
Legislature reporter

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 7:58 AM CST: Formats text

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