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Drama students are most vulnerable to harassment – Equity president Malcolm Sinclair

Malcolm Sinclair with Laura Rogers in Pressure – the outgoing Equity president said more needed to be done to protect young students and actors. Photo: Robert Day
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Outgoing Equity president Malcolm Sinclair has argued that drama school students are most vulnerable to harassment because they fear being seen as “tricky” if they report it.

The actor told The Stage that the #MeToo campaign’s biggest challenge in future is to protect students and early career actors, who often “don’t want to make waves”.

Speaking at the press launch for David Haig’s Pressure at the Ambassadors Theatre in London, in which he performs, Sinclair argued that the “onus is on the older, more experienced actors to say stop”.

He told The Stage: “I think there’s a lot further to go [in the campaign against harassment]. We’ve had a helpline for years that wasn’t used very much, because people didn’t know about it or didn’t want to make waves.

“I think people do [feel more comfortable speaking out now] but there are still two issues: it is still difficult for drama school students to speak out, because they don’t want to get a reputation for being tricky or they think, ‘It will be more difficult for me to move on from drama school.’”

Sinclair added that the second issue was facing actors in the early years of their careers, who are “trying to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way”.

The outgoing Equity leader claimed he was aware of harassment being a problem while he was at drama school, and said he believed it was still be an issue at training institutions.

“I talked to contemporaries of mine and they were told, ‘Loosen up, come on’, and it will make you a better actor or actress and it was just a way of getting in there,” he said.

Sinclair added that Equity is to offer stage managers more support to deal with allegations of harassment, as they are often the “first point of call for someone who finds themselves in a difficult situation”. This follows a motion passed at Equity’s Annual Representative Conference.

Stage managers could be offered training to support harassed company members

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