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Royal Court releases Code of Behaviour to prevent sexual harassment in theatre

Artistic director Vicky Featherstone put together the code in response to the Royal Court Theatre Day of Action

Royal Court
© Flickr/Tom Brogan

The Royal Court has released its Code of Behaviour, following the day of action which took place at the theatre last weekend, prompted by the Harvey Weinstein allegations.

Artistic director Vicky Featherstone said: "Thanks to the bravery, openness and desire to see change happen from the people in our industry who have either experienced abuse or are desperate to see it end, we have been able to compose this document.

"We at the Royal Court are adopting this today. It is an offering, it is a beginning. We have to start somewhere."

The document, which is subtitled Preventing Sexual Harassment and Abuses of Power, An offering, a provocation, a hope for culture change, focuses on five specific areas. Responsibility, reporting, raising awareness, breadth and scope and patterns and scenarios are all headings under which several points are raised.

The theatre also released information gleaned from the 150 stories which were read out at the day of action. Out of 150 stories, 126 related directly to experiences in the theatre industry. Twenty one per cent of the incidents happened in rehearsals or backstage. Fourteen per cent happened at drama schools between tutors and students and there were a shocking 11 accounts of rape.

Under the heading Responsibility, one of the points reads: "You must take responsibility for the power you have. Do not use it abusively over others more vulnerable than you. Think about what you want, why you want it, what you are doing to get it, and what impact it will have. If this is achieved, the problem is solved."

The code also posits that logging behaviour is important, even if no further action is wished for and it says that blurred boundaries between work and social should be recognised, and not exploited.

Freelancers are encouraged to use the same reporting structures as staff and to look to ITC, UKT, SOLT, Equity, BECTU and other industry bodies. Freelancer sessions will be held by the Royal Court in January 2018.

The day of action was staged as a result of the Harvey Weinstein revelations and was a place for people in the industry to anonymously report on their experiences.

Read the full Code of Behaviour here.