CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What Theatre Artists and Administrators Should Know About Sexual Harassment

HowlRound: Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (beneath the root of a tree, at the bottom of the ocean), you know that sexual harassment in the workplace has been a topic in the news lately. What performers and other theatre professionals may tend to forget is that while they are artists, they are also “acting” as employees, be it of a theatre company or an individual producer. And, as employees, they have certain rights under federal, state, and sometimes city employment laws.


Taylor Steck said...

In monday's PTM class, Molly had woman from Student Affairs speak to us during class, with one of the topics of discussion being Title IX. This made me recall recent and other events that have taken place in Purnell, which made me more curious about the further details of Title IX as well as how it relates and can be enforced in the work space of a theatre setting. This seems especially important after the unfortunate experiences relating to the cast of The Rover this fall, where we were given insight to during their critiques in conservatory hour one day. It surprised me, and made me want to further learn how and what the school of drama as well as the university as a whole typically deals with these sorts of issues, and how they plan on progressing further from this point on to help ensure safety in the rehearsal room and onstage as well.

Helena Hewitt said...

I think that having clear and widely known policies for harassment is especially important for a theatre company because one, those working onstage can be dealing with sensitive content or having to expose themselves (either figuratively or literally) and can end up in especially vulnerable positions and two, those offstage, tend to be working in a heavily male-dominated environment where discriminatory comments or actions can seem like just a part of the working environment and anyone who complains about them may be cast in a light of being “too sensitive” or “not able to take a joke.” I’m really glad to read Taylor’s comment above that Molly McCarter brought in people to talk to the freshmen class about these issues. Although, since it was a representative from the larger campus, I wonder if they went over, in detail, the reporting policy for the School of Drama, because I think that is something that all students should thoroughly understand. I would like to eventually see broader discussions of these issues with faculty and all departments involved because typically these issues are swept under the rug and I would like to see the School of Drama make a conscious effort to shed light on them.

Ali Whyte said...

I am always up for new ways of noticing and combating sexual harassment in the workplace. For theatrical artists, the workplace is often a little blurry because in a lot of way's it's not different from many of the other spaces we exist in in everyday life. I do think, however, that these spaces should be treated as the professional workplaces that they are. Molly brought a representative of Student Affairs to PTM on Monday who also provided information about how specifically on this campus Title IX works and can be used by students. I think this article is a good general information source and good overview about what people should be aware of for both themselves as well as others in the artistic workplace. The other thing I really like about this article is it's pointed direction towards administrators as well as artist because it is their responsibility too, if and when they become aware of harassment occurring under their supervision, to put a stop to any form of sexual harassment occurring in their workplace.