Editor’s View: In cases like that of Ramin Gray at ATC, how can we find a route to rehabilitation?
As more emerges regarding Ramin Gray’s departure from Actors Touring Company, the less clear things become. In July, I wrote about the lack of transparency around the process: about what Gray had been accused of and precisely what he was found guilty of.
Shortly afterwards, Gray resigned, with a statement issued by the company saying that the director had decided to move on “after a period of reflection and discussion”. We heard – and continue to hear – nothing from Gray himself. Perhaps the terms of his departure do not allow him to speak?
It now appears that he may have been forced to resign – or was put into a position where he felt he had no other option. At least three board members felt so strongly that the situation had been mishandled that they tendered their resignations. None of these board members challenged the results of the disciplinary hearing that upheld four offences of verbal misconduct. They are not arguing that Gray did nothing wrong, nor that he did not deserve some form of reprimand. Nor am I.
The investigation concluded his behaviour merited a formal warning, but not dismissal. The result, though, was that Gray left the company.
There are two interconnected issues here. Were all the parties involved in this process dealt with fairly? And are these kind of secret processes the best way for justice to be upheld – and be seen to be upheld?
People should be able to report misconduct about senior figures in arts organisations and expect those accusations to be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. If accusations are upheld, there should be consequences for the accused. We should protect the complainants throughout this process and the option of anonymity should be part of this.
We must also remember that while this is a problem that all industries face, there are circumstances specific to theatre that can exacerbate problems and make it harder for claimants to seek redress: the fluidity of what constitutes a workplace; the often extreme imbalances of power at play; the lack of formal structures and processes, to name a few.
However, there must be ways to balance this with protecting the rights of the accused. And, if the accused is found guilty, we must ensure the punishment fits the crime.
Gray has been found guilty of something that those with access to all the information believed did not merit dismissal, yet he has ended up out of a job. Should a similar situation arise again, it is crucial that a process is found to allow for someone to be disciplined for an offence and be able to return to their job, learning from their previous mistakes.
As we attempt the crucial process of improving the atmosphere of theatre workplaces and rooting out historic and current offences, there must also be space for rehabilitation and, when earned, forgiveness.