Trust the board on Ramin Gray case (your views, July 12)
I was extremely disappointed by your column (Editor’s View: ‘Ramin Gray case underlines challenge of balancing fairness and transparency’, July 5, p6).
Gray’s board have judged that he has, on a number of occasions, behaved in a verbally inappropriate manner. By questioning whether Gray deserves this outcome, you are casting doubt over the thorough process that Actors Touring Company’s board has conducted, and on the testimonies of the people who have been brave enough to come forward. Surely we should be able to trust that if the complaints made against Gray were insubstantial, the board would not have upheld them – or is there an additional scale you think Gray’s behaviour ought to be judged on?
The concern you voice about Gray’s future employability and your stance that we can’t or shouldn’t judge Gray until we have the full salacious detail of the severity of complaints made against him could be inferred to suggest that perhaps there are occasions where, if the offence isn’t serious, we should overlook it, particularly if the person in question is particularly talented. That is a harmful and insidious viewpoint, and an irresponsible one to be promoting in an industry paper.
Your column fails to explain who would benefit from full transparency in the Gray case. Him? The people who have complained (who remain anonymous)? The theatre industry? The gossip columns? Ramin Gray could make a public statement if he wanted to, but he hasn’t. Sometimes it is not in the public interest for all the details to be known, as the damage wreaked by these events can spread.
Our industry is making small steps towards changing a culture where, for too long, powerful men have been able to behave inappropriately towards often younger, less powerful people. This is changing, in part, because courageous people are calling this behaviour out, despite the emotional cost and risks to their employability, and because organisations are putting processes and protocols in place to deal with it when it arises, as ATC has done. These people deserve our commendation, not to have doubt cast on them or to be publicly interrogated.
Our industry is overflowing with talented people. Most of them, thankfully, do not behave in ways that warrant formal warnings. We as an industry need to take a long look at how we treat whistleblowers and what the consequences are of our seeming desire to protect powerful, talented people whose behaviour falls below the high standards we should expect of them.
Co-artistic director, Tangled Feet
You make a good point in your column. Having been the subject of a work-based inquiry myself, I know how frustrating this process can be. I was accused of misconduct and completely exonerated of all claims by the independent inquiry. I still felt I had to leave the job due to the way the situation was handled. To make matters worse my colleagues and students may have thought I was guilty of wrongdoing as the charges and results were not made public.
I agree with the editor. We don’t know what Ramin Gray is accused of. He may be a victim of revolutions eating their own children. I don’t think he was wrong to say that “we are seeing this everywhere: parliament, bankers, football, Harvey Weinstein and Spacey… The search for the Weinstein of British theatre is an honourable search and some names have come up. More may come”. But I’m sure he didn’t expect to be in the cross-hairs and may wish the search he welcomed had been more nuanced.
Who qualifies as diverse?
Stephanie Street’s column is great and I agree with her argument (‘Gatekeepers need educating on diversity – believe it, state it, do it,’ July 5, p10), but I have some questions. Why are “visible disabilities” (or “impairments” as would be the preferred language from the disability rights movement) prioritised over invisible ones? And is privilege due to race always a black/white binary? Who counts as a person of colour and who decides? What about people of mixed heritage, people from the Middle East and Turkey, Eastern Europeans (subject to huge racism in the UK), Jewish and Irish people? Isn’t it time to move towards a more nuanced understanding of diversity?
Perhaps part of the answer lies in the assumption that gatekeepers will always be with us. Could we imagine a future where theatre’s leaders aren’t “gatekeepers”, but facilitators? Theatre is a collaborative art form and more diversity might come from allowing the ensemble to have a greater investment in its creation.
More support for actor training
I would like to see Spotlight accommodate actors who cannot afford full-time training (‘Equity and Spotlight shift membership criteria for drama school graduates’, thestage.co.uk, May 8). It is possible to gain excellent training from acting coaches and part-time courses. But, many have family or work responsibilities that prevent them from taking a full-time course, and it is discriminating to exclude actors who learned this way. Moreover, this exclusion is likely to fall hardest on minority groups.
Quotes of the week
“Sad to hear @orlaoloughlin1 is leaving The Traverse. She’s made fabulous work, fabulous festivals and she’s fought hard for Scottish theatre. Guildhall is getting a gem.” – Playwright and director David Greig (Twitter)
“All musical theatre performers should find the nearest pub screening the World Cup, stand in front of the screen and start whacking out One Day More or a routine from Cats. See how they like it. Bet you wouldn’t last 30 seconds before being thrown out.” – Theatre photographer Darren Bell (Twitter)
“I don’t agree with all this ‘straight actors shouldn’t be allowed to play gay characters, non-trans actors shouldn’t play transsexual characters’. Are we not ACTORS?! Let us ACT and CREATE CHARACTERS! *rides off into the sunset on a unicorn while wearing a pretty dress*.” – Writer, director and actor Derren Litten (Twitter)
“There are so many reasons why Derry Girls is a success, and one of them is because it filled a vacuum – the lack of realistic women on TV. We’re not seeing women being heroes in their own lives or being protagonists enough. Also the north of Ireland isn’t represented enough, and the girls themselves are brilliant.” – Actor Siobhan McSweeney (Observer)
“I consider playing a Muslim as I would any other part, but at the same time you do have to think about how a job affects a community of people, and I feel the effects of what it means symbolically to be an Asian actor in the industry. I understand what the weight of that is.” – Actor Adeel Akhtar (Telegraph)
“I don’t think anything is impossible to put on stage.” – Director Sally Cookson (Independent)
“I was just a young drama student recently graduated who’d landed a Hollywood movie and had some swagger in her step for five minutes… and then fate whips the carpet from under your feet, and you’re promptly unemployed.” – Actor Natalie Dormer on her first major film role in 2005 (Telegraph)
“If drama schools are not actively shaping our industry by training (producing) diverse bodies and telling diverse stories, then they will become redundant sooner or later.” – Founder of the Diversity School Initiative Steven Kavuma
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