Late last week, I invited all those who would be attending the Brickenden Awards ceremony, to join me in wearing black in solidarity with the Times Up movement. Many responded to the call, and last night, as London's theatre community came together to celebrate the 2017 theatre season, the auditorium was filled with women and men dressed in black.
|with Jennifer Hale & Kaitlyn Rietdyk|
The evening went on much like years past, celebrating the creativity and bravery of those who took a chance and put themselves out there for their art, and awards were given out to recognize the outstanding achievements of some deserving productions and individuals.
But perhaps the most unexpected and poignant moment of the night, was between presenting the back-to-back Brickenden Awards for Outstanding Costumes and Outstanding Makeup, when I invited Jennifer Hale and Kaitlyn Rietdyk to join me on the stage. Here is the transcript of what we had to say:
"We are all here tonight to celebrate another wonderful year of theatre here in London, and to pause for a moment to recognize the accomplishments of our theatre community. Before we continue on with the next award, I would like to pause for a moment, and invite Jennifer Hale and Kaitlyn Rietdyk to the stage, as we would like to use this opportunity to speak out about something that is happening in our world and right here in our very own theatre community.
At the beginning of 2018, the women of Hollywood declared, “Time’s Up!” and women and men everywhere agreed with them; there will be no more silence, no more waiting and no more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse. At the Golden Globe Awards, the women and men of Hollywood united together and wore black; an act which some critics said was a trivial statement, but we say it was inspiring, because this is not a Hollywood specific problem. The problem is just as real close to home, including Soulpepper Theatre Company and right here in London’s theatre community. We stand here tonight, with many friends in the audience, dressed in black, in solidarity with Kristen Booth, Patricia Fagan, Hannah Miller and Diana Bentley, and all of the women and men who have endured discrimination, harassment or abuse at the hands of someone in a position of power over them.
Some of you might feel that this is not the time or the place to talk about this; we wholeheartedly disagree with you. In a theatre community where there is much to celebrate, there is also a lot which goes unspoken. As a community, we need to be aware of it, and we need to take a stand against it; because we are determined to change it.
For every woman who posted #metoo, for every woman who wanted to, but for her own reasons chose to remain silent, and for every woman who is still too scared to say anything, we stand with you.
For every woman who didn’t get the part because she is too old, too fat, too tall, too dark, or simply because she refused the advances of the director, we stand with you.
For every woman struggling to find roles when so many shows have only one female part, and for every woman fighting for shows with not only more, but stronger female roles, we stand with you.
For every woman who directed a show about consent and slut shaming and had two male critics claim it was irrelevant, and for every woman who was told the rape scene she was doing wasn’t “actually rape,” we stand with you.
For every woman whispering warnings and advice in bathrooms, outside of audition halls and at bars to new female actors, because sometimes that is the only weapon we have, we thank you and we stand with you.
For every woman whose passion for this work has been dismissed as PMS, we stand with you.
For every woman who has to defend her education, experience and skills because a man questions her qualifications and ability to do the job, we stand with you.
For every woman whose desire for respect has been dismissed because of the way she chooses to dress, from bikinis to burkas, we stand with you.
For every woman who has been asked if she could have misinterpreted what happened, or has asked herself, what did I do to make this happen, we believe you and we stand with you.
For every woman who can’t believe we still have to talk about this, and for every woman who is tired of having to convince men this stuff really does happen, we stand with you.
For every woman who is not white, straight or cisgendered, and has to yell twice as loud as we do to be heard, we stand with you as allies; and in this fight we will not calm down, we will not stand by, we will not be polite and we will not be silent.
For every girl and every woman; for my daughter, for my niece, for my daughter.
We cannot let the discrimination, harassment and abuse win; instead, we must stand united and commit to providing a safe and supportive environment for everyone, so that we may continue to celebrate our theatre community. As the owner of The Costume Shoppe, and as three individuals who are very involved in London’s theatre scene, we proudly pledge to uphold this mandate, and encourage you all to do the same."
Greeted by an immediate standing ovation, the response was clear; it was time for something to be said. My hope is that our speech has shone a light on this issue and will give those individuals who come face-to-face with discrimination, harassment or abuse, the strength to come forward and share their stories.
Finally, to those who disagree with the stand I took last night, with the support of two incredibly beautiful, fierce and intelligent women, I say this: We need to take advantage of whatever platform we find ourselves standing on, and last night was my opportunity to take a stand for my colleagues, for my friends, and for the future of our theatre community.