Times Up TCG! Publish Our #MeToo Stories
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To the Board of the Theater Communications Group:
We are aware of an American Theatre Magazine article by one of your writers, Diep Tran, that had intended to address specific perpetrators of sexual misconduct in American theatrical institutions, but that has since been reduced and anonymized. We are also aware of two follow-up articles by Tran, containing corroborating stories of sexual harassment, which are now in publication limbo. We are aware of these because we have read your “A Note to the Field” from April 3, 2018, and the two blog posts by Monica Byrne, detailing her experience with American Theatre Magazine. We are also aware of the articles because many of us know the sources personally, and because the sources themselves know the articles to which they contributed information remain unpublished.
We, like Byrne, are wondering why you would direct one of your writers to solicit these stories, then claim that that writer’s work falls under “investigative journalism”, and then deny that your publication has room for such writing. AT magazine has had a huge impact on regional theater by openly challenging such practices as the lack of racial diversity in casting. And TCG has now made a commitment to social justice through its engagement with the practices of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion. This endeavor has already changed your mission and operations. We are wondering why an organization that has historically been willing to tackle socio-political issues would suddenly balk at the prospect of holding theaters accountable for instances of sexual misconduct within their walls.
You seem to imply that identifying perpetrators by name would represent a conflict of interest, given your position as supporters and promoters of these same institutions. Perhaps you feel the threat of litigation, or at the very least, the threat of losing your relationships with these institutions. We recognize that you are divided amongst yourselves as to how best to proceed, and that while you are sorry an injustice was done, that beyond coalition-building, providing a list of resources, and starting a webinar series, you feel you cannot help in addressing the issue of sexual harassment beyond this.
We feel the opposite. This is the age of finally, at long last, holding others to account. Your mission may not previously have led you to this place, but given the zeitgeist that is characterized by unflinching courage in the face of adversity, we feel it is time for you to join this new wave of change, or be rendered obsolete by it.
Whatever your reasons, we do not accept them as more important than the fundamental responsibility we all have as human beings towards each other, which is to uphold and protect each other’s safety, dignity, and humanity. The theater is meant precisely as a haven for that humanity. More so, it is meant to hold a microscope to that humanity, to expose what it finds there for the greater good. If we cannot count on every aspect of the American Theatre, including your publication, to hold itself accountable when our humanity is threatened, then we are obligated to question the validity of those aspects.
Those of us who are not at the top of the power chain - the writers, designers, actors, directors, theater staff and crew members - are the ones without whom theater does not exist. We are the artists who make theater happen. And regional theaters began in order to support the artist. They were not the province of the rich and powerful. They were - and supposedly still are - homes for those brave enough to voice the truth - especially when the masses would not listen. We believe that if you have a writer brave enough to investigate this issue, and witnesses brave enough to respond to that writer with their truths, that it is your responsibility to be as brave as they by declaring yourselves not just Promoters, but Protectors.
We believe that Tran’s article not only promotes theatrical institutions, but is a crucial part of protecting them. We believe that this will not only preserve your relationships with theaters, but will continue to enhance your status as an important member in the dialogue between theater and the society it represents. We urge you to continue that dialogue, so that those in power may know that no one is above scrutiny, and that we - and you - are willing to examine every level of their operations because there is nothing to fear in so doing. If a theatrical institution has nothing to hide, there can be no conflict of interest when you show them, by publishing articles of this nature, that you believe them. We believe that is exactly what one needs to do if one claims to be in the business of supporting and promoting Theatre.
It is time for you to ask yourselves what your mission really is - whether it moves beyond protecting relationships with the very people who have institutionalized the silence that keeps the cycle of sexual misconduct alive, and goes towards building greater trust and equity with the artists who constitute the theaters you represent. It is time for you to publish Diep Tran’s articles and give your writers the freedom to further investigate these issues. Help us all forge a path towards greater safety and accountability.
(alphabetically thus far)
A. Rey Pamatmat
Carol Linnea Johnson
Julienne Hanzelka Kim
Liz Duffy Adams
Mary B Robinson
Peter Jay Fernandez
Stephen Adly Guirgis
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