Women in theatre have suffered so much, says top director

An award-winning Irish theatre director says that women in the industry “have suffered so much shit”.

Oonagh Murphy, who is the director of the award-winning play Tribes at the Gate Theatre and recipient of the inaugural Jo Cox award, spoke out this week urging people to check in with female colleagues.

“Today is a day to show the women you work with a lot of care. Speak to them, check in with them, show them you value what they do.

“Female actors and stage managers and assistant directors have suffered so much shit. Now is a time to show up for them,” said Ms Murphy.

“It’s not enough to say ‘that’s the old way’. Show them the new way.”

Commenting under the hashtag #MeToo, where people speak out about past experiences of sexual harassment, Ms Murphy said: “Your silence will not protect you.”

Her comments followed the Gate Theatre’s statement that it intends to appoint an independent HR professional to deal with alleged harassment issues.

“The Gate Theatre joined with other theatrical institutions last week to condemn the issue of sexual harassment and abuse of power in the theatre world in Ireland and internationally,” it said in a statement published on its website this week.

“The Gate board and management made it clear in our statement that we will listen to what people have to say and our aim is to foster a safe and supportive working environment in our theatre.

“If you have been contracted by the Gate Theatre or in our employment and wish to talk to us about any concerns please contact us on confidential@gate-theatre.ie

“Any experience shared will be treated in the utmost confidence and we intend to appoint an independent professional HR advisor to handle any issues raised.”

The announcement came less than a week after the Gate Theatre director Selina Cartmell joined other theatre directors to condemn harassment “in the theatre world in Ireland and internationally”.

After this joint statement from theatre directors last week, a number of women published posts online detailing allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a figure in the theatre industry.

It comes after weeks of allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and rape being tabled against entertainment figures across the world, such as movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

At the time, Oscar-nominated Irish director Lenny Abrahamson said there are “powerful abusers” in Ireland relying on the silence of their colleagues.

“What’s for sure is that Weinstein will be the first of many who will now be exposed. I hope they are quaking in their boots,” said Mr Abrahamson.

“Right now, here in Ireland, there will be powerful abusers relying on the silence of colleagues. Let’s hope their time
is up.”


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