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Juliet Stevenson: ‘Harassment and bullying won’t be tackled with hashtags’

Juliet Stevenson being interviewed for Theatre Lives

Actor Juliet Stevenson has implored the industry not to let momentum fade in the fight against sexual harassment, warning that change will only come with ‘intelligence, dedication and force”.

Stevenson, who is currently starring in Mary Stuart in the West End, said tackling harassment and bullying was “not going to be achieved in a few weeks and months on Twitter with hashtags”.

She said: “Times are changing but we have all these deep-rooted traditions to identify and challenge… I’m worried that this thing will have its moment and fade. What really needs to happen is that it’s sustained with intelligence, dedication and force.”

She added: “The lid has been down for years, now we have to let people speak, and then we’ll get on with the business of what this all really means. I welcome it with open arms and am so excited by it.”

An investigation by The Stage [1] uncovered that around a third of people working in theatre had experienced sexual harassment, with more than 40% saying they had been bullied.

Stevenson, who was speaking as she collected a best supporting actress prize at the WhatsOnStage Awards for Hamlet in the West End, added: “Every actress in the industry has felt intimidated in the workplace, or silenced. Silenced on stage, silenced in the rehearsal room. It’s high time we looked at all this, but we have to look at it with real intelligence and wisdom and not just jump on the bandwagon.”

WhatsOnStage Awards 2018: Winners in full [2]

Stevenson’s comments come as Equity issued a warning to theatre bosses [3] over misconduct within the industry, promising to hold those in positions of power accountable.

The union has also published a set of pledges to help tackle sexual harassment including a helpline and a new campaign.