Sexual misconduct in the Canadian arts, too
January 3, 2018 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Albert Schultz, the co-founder and artistic director of Soulpepper Theatre, is accused by four actresses, one calling him a "serial sexual predator" (Globe story)
posted by anothermug (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, this behavior, and the cultural/social structures that abet it, is borderless
posted by vicusofrecirculation at 2:11 PM on January 3

CBC report here as well:

The lawsuits filed in Ontario Superior Court allege Soulpepper either knew or was "willfully blind to the fact Albert was a sexual predator" and created a "poisonous work environment by not acting to curb the alleged behaviour."

There have been allegations in the past. Soulpepper revealed in October 2017 that it had severed ties with longtime guest artist and director Laszlo Marton over allegations of sexual harassment reported to the theatre company two years ago.

The company said at the time it was "dedicated to creating a safe place of belonging for artists, audiences, and aspirants."

In the wake of Marton's dismissal, Soulpepper sent an internal email to staff obtained by CBC, which vowed to "improve on the workplace dynamics" and promised that management's "doors continue to be open" to anyone wishing to speak with them.

In the memo, Soulpepper said an outside expert hired to review the company's anti-harassment policies had submitted her report and that she "did not have any significant concerns." The email also said managers were "not aware of any allegations of sexual harassment at Soulpepper" aside from those against Marton.

The email was co-signed by the theatre company's head of human resources, Sarah Farrell, and executive director Leslie Lester, who is also married to Schultz.

The statements of claim allege Soulpepper's harassment policy, instituted in March 2016, is flawed since it requires allegations of harassment be reported to the head of HR and/or Lester, "to whom cast members could not expect to report harassment, particularly sexual harassment" about her husband.

Also, some local theatre scene background from Jonathan Goldsbie on Twitter:

Some context: Soulpepper is effectively the biggest and most powerful theatre company in Toronto (given that Mirvish is mostly a presenter of others' shows and seldom produces its own).

While it started as a collective of artists, it's very much evolved into Schultz's own little empire. For the company to move past him is not impossible but will be extremely difficult.

As both reports note, Soulpepper's longtime executive director, Leslie Lester, is married to Schultz. They're also both executive producers of CBC's Kim's Convenience

This, from a piece on Laszlo Mart0n's termination from Soulpepper back in October:

The theatre company said it has anti-harassment policies and procedures in place. But “out of an abundance of caution,” it has engaged a third-party expert to conduct a review of those policies and procedures to ensure they are using best practices.

On Monday, artistic director Albert Schultz and executive director Leslie Lester also led a company meeting with staff and artists to reinforce those protocols and standards.

Ugh. These two. It's a small pond - they held all the cards. Until they didn't - but it required women taking immense personal and professional risks (as always) to come forward.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:15 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

I've been waiting for the shoe to drop on a particular arts leader for a while, until then realize that there are others yet to be outed.
posted by furtive at 2:16 PM on January 3

In the first few paragraphs, the alleged conduct is described thusly, "...Mr. Schultz exposed himself backstage and at a work-related function; that as a director he inserted himself into scenes to grope or kiss actresses during rehearsal; and that as an actor he groped actresses while they were on stage in front of audiences and had to stifle their reactions" and I am ashamed to admit that my first thoughts were "Ugh, what an asshole" and "But honestly as shitty director behavior goes I've seen and experienced worse."

And then I read the rest of the article.

The details of his behavior. Just ... horrifying. His violations so subtly and cleverly creep over the line from the frank and intimate trust that the performing arts can require into abuse. That it seems to have been a pattern is maybe even more damning. At the very least, he's a serial harasser. At the worst, he's purposely created a private artistic fiefdom in which he can assault and demean women without consequences.

And I think I have some more work to do. Because if my first reaction was to diminish this sort of bullshit as just what you sometimes have to deal with when working in the theater, then I'm no better than the colleagues and bosses at Soulpepper who did nothing while this shitstain ran wild. Ugh.
posted by minervous at 2:18 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]

Sexual misconduct in the Canadian arts, too
Was there ever any doubt?
Just looking around at who was silent about Jian Ghomeshi (remember that asshole?) might be informative.
posted by chococat at 2:50 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]

Sexual misconduct in the Canadian arts, too

And in journalism. And in politics.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:39 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

CBC's the current interviewed two of the women this morning.

It's interesting in part because of the articulation of how this can arise in a creative space where one might touch, be nude, etc in the workplace.
It leaves me thinking about how in theatre it's the same in that there is the existence of male power, like every other workplace, but it is different in the expectation of openness to nudity and touch, and of how boundary pushing is part of creative processes, and how that makes people particular vulnerable and unable to object.

At the bottom of the FP article is a link to a panel discussion on #metoo and the arts... Think I'll check it out today.
posted by chapps at 10:19 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

Oh, wow, chapps, that interview is damning. Thanks for posting it.
posted by minervous at 11:15 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

Four people - including two co-founders of Soulpepper - have resigned in protest:

Ted Dykstra, Stuart Hughes, Michelle Monteith, and Rick Roberts said they will not work at the company as long as Schultz has any role with the organization.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:40 PM on January 4

From the CBC: 'Her voice is heard': Why some accusers pursue civil rather than criminal justice in harassment cases--interesting article that discusses why the women in the Albert Schultz case are pursuing a civil trial.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:32 PM on January 5

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