Royal Court Theatre to draft ‘industry-wide’ behaviour code in wake of Weinstein allegations

Behaviour guidelines aimed at stamping out sexual harassment and abuses of power across the theatre industry are to be introduced by one of Britain’s most famous theatres in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The move comes after 150 stories relating to power abuse were submitted over 10 days, culminating in a “Day Of Action” at the Royal Court Theatre which left attendees “ashen-faced” and “quite shaken”, according to the theatre’s artistic director, Vicky Featherstone.

She wants the code – which could include advice such as not meeting people in a position of power for the first time outside of working hours – to be adopted industry-wide, as she called for action.

Royal Court Theatre artistic director Vicky Featherstone (Johan Persson)

The guidelines may also include behaviour advice for those in positions of power, the theatre’s associate director Lucy Morrison said.

Featherstone promised to be “really fast and really bold about this”.

The day of action, which also included an industry-wide town hall session, took place at the theatre on Saturday and saw submitted stories read out at a performative event.

Featherstone said: “It was just phenomenal, really, the effect of those stories on people and how important it is that we hold that and we come out with something at the other end – it is about action.”

The event was announced following allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against US film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Featherstone said it was “time to confront the abuses of power that have been occurring in our own industry for years”.

On Saturday, she revealed a draft code would hopefully be released next week to the industry, which will then be open to changes.

“It’s really important we just throw some shit at the wall and see what sticks,” she said.

“We’re going to do it fast and we’re not going to over-consult, with due respect.

“It’s much easier if I take responsibility, if it might be shit, and then we get it out there and people start to add, and we change it.”

Featherstone said none of the stories she had heard had surprised her, adding: “We’re talking about people who have power in an industry where the boundaries are blurred, so nothing is shocking about it.

“The only shocking thing about it is, it’s taken this long to have this conversation.”

She labelled those who were abusing their power with junior members of the industry as “delusional”.

“They don’t actually realise what their power is, or what they’re doing is wrong. They just think it’s the way that they behave.”

She said Morrison would be supporting people who submitted stories and wanted to take it further.


 

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