Theatre’s inherited hierarchical structures as well as the dependence of many on a few for their next work opportunity combine to create a potentially hazardous situation. At best, inappropriate behaviours are normalised. At worst, power is open to abuse, terribly. Neither should ever be acceptable again.
Understandably, recent events have built a real groundswell of support in the community to make Irish theatres and events safe, fair and equitable places in which to work. That should be the minimum standard in all workplaces, including theatres.
However we must not lose sight of the wider context of recent discussions. While supporting those who speak out, it’s time to collectively examine ourselves and our organisations too. Is the right to dignity and respect fundamental to our way of doing things? If not, why not?
Along with policies and effective reporting procedures, more fundamental changes of mindset are also required. Attitudes as well as behaviours must change. We have to speak up when people are not respected. We have to make sure that everyone working in every organisation, including theatres, expects to be treated with dignity and respect, always.
Theatre Forum will continue to work with its members, providing the resources to help them make their workplaces safe.