Soulpepper set to stage A Delicate Balance in wake of harassment scandal

Soulpepper set to stage A Delicate Balance in wake of harassment scandal
From CBC - January 12, 2018

The show will go on at the Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company.

On Saturday, just over a week after four actresses filed separate lawsuits against the company and its founding artistic director Albert Schultz, the theatre will start running its next production: American playwright Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Delicate Balance.

"Soulpepper Theatre Company is determined to emerge a stronger organization that serves as a home for art and artists in Toronto," the company said Thursday evening in a statement signed by dozens of artists.

"This past week has deeply shaken our community. We are not naive to the challenges we face. We know there is much for us to reconcile. But we want you to know that hundreds of artists, administrators, staff, creators and supporters believe in this company."

Scandalposesconundrum for patrons, artists

The Schultz scandal has posed a conundrum for patrons and artists alike, who must decide whether to support a production at Soulpepper as the company further investigates sexual harassment claims.

The lawsuits filed by Diana Bentley, Kristin Booth, Patricia Fagan and Hannah Miller allege Schultz groped them, exposed himself, pressed against them, or otherwise behaved inappropriately.

None of their allegations have been tested in court and neither Schultz nor Soulpepper have filed a statement of defence. Schultz said he will "vigorously defend" himself against the allegations.

Soulpepper has said it was unaware of any allegations of sexual misconduct against Schultz or anyone else, having conducted investigations into the issue as recently as this past fall.

Some patrons plan to boycott Soulpepper until it overhauls its board of directors, while others feel more comfortable attending a show now that Schultz has resigned and an upcoming production of Amadeusthat he was slated to direct has been cancelled. Alan Dilworth is now acting artistic director.

Requests to speak to Soulpepper and A Delicate Balancecast members were declined, but in Thursday's statement, the company said its "continued existence as an organization depends upon those dedicated supporters now more than ever."

"We want those supporters to know that the artists, staff, and other members of the Soulpepper community are deeply committed. Our intention is foremost to listen, act, and make meaningful change."

Toronto actor Brendan Wall, who had a nine-year relationship with Soulpepper, said he knows some of the talent in the A Delicate Balanceand is planning to see the show.

At the same time, he supports the women who filed the lawsuits and he wants their voices to be at the forefront.

"The theatre company has been the home to an enormous amount of talented and creative people, many of whom I call my friends," said Wall.

"In the last week and a half I have been thinking about the men and women who work every day in the office and have made that place their home. I 100 per cent believe the allegations made by Diana and Kristin and Hannah and Patricia, and I support them 100 per cent.

"I do think there's a lot of wonderful, creative people in that place and I hope they are OK right now."

Lisa Wakelam, a theatre enthusiast based in Hamilton, is a longtime Soulpepper subscriber and has tickets to see A Delicate Balanceon Jan. 20.

Tension expected in audience


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