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Monday, 16 March 2015

Why should I go to the theater for sex and violence, when I can get that at home?

Odd article in the New York Times about the problem of sexual harassment in the theater.
It is slanted slightly in the direction of The Actor's Union Doesn't Do Enough About It And Needs New Rules.
And it rightly notes that stage managers, (besides one they referenced as hitting on a complainant himself,) are members of Equity yet also a part of management, and that the main objective is almost always going to be letting the Show Go On, so maybe not the best person address a problem reported by a young(er) less connected victim?
Well, yeah.

But how could a journalist tackle this subject and not even mention, perhaps, not even know about, the existence of The Deputy? AEA always has a deputy or two in every union production.
Confidential, usually experienced in and knowledgeable about, and often actually IN, the vulnerable performer's very condition, and required to represent the POV of no one but the performers and their union.

So for all the interviews he may have conducted, I don't think Patrick Healey really researched his subject with much care.

But I am more bothered that the story that opens the article is... well, it doesn't really illustrate the problem they're trying to present, at least to this reader.
A woman slaps her boyfriend.
The man later slaps her.
She goes to rehearsal with a black eye and finds out that he is more valuable to the production than she is.
As someone who's gotten my share of black eyes, and given and received unfortunate stage bruises, (including mistimed hits that really connected,) I have never known a slap to cause a black eye.
And in the article, indeed, it seems not to have been the slap per se that had visible results, but that his slap had sufficient force to knock her down.
At the end of the anecdote, what I take away is that the woman did not feel that what had happened rose to the level of meriting the attention of law enforcement.
She did seem to feel the incident was worth the man losing his job over, or something....
You see, she didn't want to leave the production, but she didn't want to be forced to be around him, and well... he was in the production, they were portraying lovers. So, absent a serious re-thinking of Shakespeare's intent, and a re-staging, I guess she wanted him fired.

But she also, apparently, in a Things That Make You Go Huh????? detail, didn't even think the blow and the injury was sufficient to cause a break-up, at least not for a while, since several months later, the production is changing venues, by which I mean GOING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY, and their relationship is "all but over."
"All but over?"

It is gravely wrong for a man to strike a woman, I'm not defending that. From the details given I think the shmuck should have at least spent the night in a cell. But it does not seem that he intended to do any more damage to her than she had intended to do to him. So I'm not certain the woman shouldn't have spent some time in the hoosegow a few nights earlier.
And I'm damned sure, unless she is emotionally or mentally damaged in some way that precludes her being let out without a keeper, she should have left his sorry carcass with a little more dispatch.

Like, that night.

Is she not capable of caring for herself? of making rational life decision?
It seems she is.
So why... Omiwerd, i can't believe I am about to stick up for a producer!!!!!.... why, in her mind, is it up to the producer to do for her in her professional life, what she did not even bother to do in her private life?
Man up, woman!

And I know I shouldn't extrapolate overarching sociological principles and predictions from one situation, ("the plural of anecdote is not 'data',") but I fear these sorts of problems are going to become more and more common and more and more unsolvable as the notions of license and privacy and consent and restraint become ever more tangled in our society's collective mind and psyche.

Look at the idiotic notion of teaching children in sex education about consent, that an elementary schoolchild should say "no" to "unwanted touch." (so if the kid's okay with it, full speed ahead?)
Or the main-streaming of violent, deviant practices masquerading as romance?
Or the granting of adult autonomy, (with concomitant money and opportunity,)  to people who are simultaneously encouraged to prolong their adolescence.
People, young people especially, are consistently told that all is acceptable, all is permitted, everything is morally neutral, and nothing is anyone elses concern - and they are shamed, (or even prosecuted,) if they disagree. And yet time after time, consequences seem to give evidence that all that old-fashioned conventional wisdom and morality was, uhm.... right?
A link on the front page of the Times tells us that a college is "trying to balance student safety with open-mindedness after 12 were hospitalized last month," from overdoses.
How's that working out for ya?

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