Theatre News

Old Vic's Kate Varah: 'There are grey areas'

The theatre’s executive director appeared with Matthew Warchus and the chair of the Old Vic board at a press conference today

Kate Varah and Matthew Warchus
Kate Varah and Matthew Warchus
© Dan Wooller

The Old Vic Theatre's executive director has spoken about the theatre's investigation into allegations made about Kevin Spacey's behaviour while he was artistic director at the theatre, and the problems with the theatre's reporting processes.

Varah said: "[The investigation we have undertaken] has helped us understand the issues that we as an organisation and also as an industry are facing. [A theatre] may have a robust process in place but actually is that sufficient?

"We are going to sit down with staff in a very consultative, measured and long reaching way to talk to them about what is OK and what isn't OK. A lot of the coverage over the last two weeks has been about whether there are grey areas. It seems to us, as a result of this investigation, that there are a lot of grey areas. And we need to figure out what they are.

"It's not as simple as saying: "You can't go for a drink with someone after work. We have to be able to understand what enables this industry to continue to be creative and brilliant but also what enables people to feel safe in it and feel happy and confident working in it."

Varah appeared in a press briefing with artistic director Matthew Warchus, Nick Clarry, the chairman of the board and their legal representation Richard Miskella. They presented the results of their investigation, which came about after the theatre set up a confidential point of contact for people to relay stories of harassment which had taken place at the theatre.

Warchus said: "This last month has created lots of feelings and emotions and thoughts personally but I don’t think we are here to discuss those. We are here to try to define an upgrade to the protection and support systems in the theatre."

The director added that he had been surprised, confused and shocked at the 'turn of events'.

He said: "I am somebody who worked here in that period, and as a freelance theatre director I worked in pretty much every producing theatre in London and several theatres outside of London and New York. My experience of working here was that this was in no way a toxic environment, it was identical to working with any other theatre I’ve ever worked in. So you can understand how surprising, confusing and shocking this turn of events is and my big hope is that it doesn’t reflect on The Old Vic as a name, or brand."

The theatre announced today that they would be implementing a new system of Guardians at The Old Vic as well as continuing to respond to any further allegations made in confidence.