We begin with sincere thanks to the authors and co-signers of the recent Change.org petition and open letter (“Times Up TCG! Publish Our #MeToo Stories”) for continuing and broadening the conversation about ending sexual abuse and misconduct in our field. The public witness of such a diverse group of theatre practitioners acting in solidarity with survivors is powerful, and in keeping with the best traditions of the field. As their letter built on our Note to the Field on April 3, we offer this follow-up as another step in this critical process.
In many of the responses to our Note to the Field, we heard a desire to understand how we’d act on the names that survivors bravely shared with American Theatre. As we work through the legal and journalistic processes that will determine our next steps, we first want to provide more context and clarity.
While it is true that our senior editor, Diep Tran, received accounts from around 100 individuals, many of the reports centered around a few particularly egregious and well substantiated cases. As our early editorial conversations got stuck on the question of whether we had the resources to report on these severe cases (a kind of journalism American Theatre had never undertaken in its 35 years), we opted to share with major news outlets the names of survivors, with their permission; these publications later produced high-profile news reports that resulted in the accused perpetrators leaving or being removed from their positions. As we revisit these cases and their meaning for our field, we anticipate that future coverage will focus on lifting up the stories of survivors, as well as highlighting the steps these theatres are taking to change their organizational cultures.
Of the remaining accounts we received, two are corroborated by multiple sources naming perpetrators whose roles in the field afford them significant power over others. We want to emphasize that these and a small number of other names we collected are not being withheld due to pressure from Theatre Communications Group (TCG) member institutions, but because there are legal and journalistic capacities we have yet to build at our own institution. American Theatre, with the support of the TCG board and leadership, has embarked on a process to ensure that these cases, and others that may be reported to us, get the full and fair investigations they merit, either by ourselves or in tandem with other media partners. We will continue to explore building the capacity to make a shift beyond the role of a traditional trade publication to one that will uphold TCG’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) values through investigative coverage and analysis of crucial issues in the field.
As we move that process forward, it is informed by our other programming to end sexual abuse and misconduct in our field. This includes an arc of #MeToo programming at the National Conference that will impact hundreds of theatre practitioners and give them the tools to prevent and disrupt sexual abuse and misconduct. In this and all our programming, we believe our work is strengthened through open dialogue and critique.
While this foundational work will take some time to complete, we are dedicating an American Theatre issue this fall to the theme of the #MeToo movement in our field in which we plan to focus on survivor stories, the best ways forward for our institutions, and the potential role of restorative justice in this work. And it will not be the last step we take.