Help!

It’s helpful to know when to call out for help.  We can’t call 911 every time we break a fingernail, but if there’s a legitimate emergency, we gotta make the call.  Likewise, we don’t want to accuse someone of violating our personal space every time someone gives us a hug or a kiss on the cheek.

In theatre, it is hard to know when too close is too close.  People flirt, kiss, hug, whatever they want to show affection.  I’ve been in the situation where someone has been more touchy upon greeting me than I’d like; it’s hard to show discomfort or disdain especially when they might be the director or producer and in a position to hire.

The term ‘sexual harassment’ doesn’t exist in theatre.  You can complain, but then you’d be difficult to work with.  Harsh but true.  And the more friendly you are, the more people like you.  Where emotions are acted out on stage, it’s easy for the actor to portray the melodrama in real life.  You have to know when to speak up and when to be gracious.

I once had a handsy stage manager who, by the description, couldn’t keep his hands to himself.  Sounds like I’m describing a scenario at a junior high.  Welcome to professional theatre.  I had a meeting with this person and a third-party (never talk to someone one-on-one alone).  At that point I needed to say something.  Please keep your hands to yourself.  No, really.

There may be a legitimate casting couch in some circles; there is a ceiling to sleeping your way to the top.  There are no hard and fast rules.  I’m sure there are in some workers’ union handbook, but the reality is, sex sells, and flirting helps.  However, you might want to consider how you are viewed by your peers and what reputation you create by your actions.

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