As per our presented plans with Equity, The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is using CTS-- the Chicago Theatre Standards—as guidelines to supplement and enhance the AEA handbook and our own policies.  Below are sections of the CTS which we feel can enhance the guidelines set out by AEA.

 

The full document can be viewed at: http://www.notinourhouse.org/code-of-conduct-pilot/

 

CTS MISSION STATEMENT

The Chicago Theatre Standards are designed to help provide a standard for creating and performing live theatre and performance.  The CTS seeks to nurture communication, safety, respect, and accountability of participants at all levels of theatrical production. Particular interests include:

 

  • Spaces free of harassment, whether it be sexual, or based in race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, color, or ability.

  • Nurturing environments that allow us to challenge ourselves, our audiences, and out communities: that support risk of mind and body: and that establish the freedom to create theatre that represents the full range of human experience.

  • A common understanding of practices for theatre environments, including written, reproducible standard available at no cost.

  • Peer support through mentorship and collaboration through online communication and community outreach.

Sexual Harassment and Intimidation (CTS)

 

For reference, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is described (please note the USEEOC uses the term “sex” as we often use gender or gender identity) as follows:

 

  • It is unlawful to harass a person (or applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. [sic]

  • Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

  • Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex [sic]. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

  • Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man and the victim and harasser can be of the same sex. [sic]

  • Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as a victim being either fired or demoted.)

  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, suck as a client or customer.

 

The EEOC covers “employees” only, not contractors or volunteers.  However, for the purposes of a safe theatrical work environment, all designers, directors, technicians, actors, and arts management personnel at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, whether “employees” or “contractors,” are covered within this code of conduct.

 

Harassment in a broader sense includes, but is not limited to:

 

  • Inappropriate or insulting remarks, gestures, jokes, innuendos, or taunting about a person’s gender, gender identity, sexual identity, racial or ethnic background, color, place of birth, citizenship, ancestry, creed, or ability.

  • Persistent unwanted questions or comments about a participant’s private life outside the boundaries of consent established in rehearsal.

  • Posting or displaying materials, articles, graffiti, and so on, which may cause humiliation, offense, or embarrassment on prohibited grounds that are outside the parameters of the production.  A production about pornography, violence, or racism may involve such images in the rehearsal space or in a 

 

 

dramaturgy packet, but such images are not appropriate for open display in dressing rooms, bathrooms, break rooms, green rooms, the shop, storage rooms, or other similar spaces.

 

Sexual Harassment in a theatrical workplace:

 

  • In a theatrical context, harassment can additionally be defined as one or a series of comments or conduct of a gender-related or sexual nature outside the boundaries of consent or production content, which is known or should reasonably be known to be unwelcome/unwanted, offensive, intimidating, hostile, or inappropriate.  It is worth noting that the higher the emotional/sexual risk a production asks of its artists, the greater the diligence of each member of the production and artistic staff is needed to foster an environment of emotional safety.

  • Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:

    • Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos, or taunts about a person’s body, attire, gender, or sexual orientation outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Negative stereotyping of race, gender, gender identity, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, marital status, relationship status, sexual orientation, ability, or other status protected by law outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Any unwanted or inappropriate physical contact such as touching, kissing, massaging, patting, hugging, or pinching outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Unwelcome inquiries or comments about a person’s sex life or sexual preference outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Leering, whistling, or other suggestive or insulting sounds outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Inappropriate comments about clothing, physical characteristics, or activities outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Posting or displaying materials, articles, graffiti, or images that are sexually oriented outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

    • Requests or demands for sexual favors, especially those that include, or imply, promise of rewards for complying (i.e. job advancement opportunities or easier physical labor) and/or threats of punishment for refusal (e.g. denial of job advancement or opportunities) outside the boundaries of consent or production content.

 

Sexual Content and Nudity Standards

 

  • When invited to audition, prospective artists have the right to make inquiries about how nudity will be used within the production, particularly when the work will be devised (when there is no script at the time of the audition).  Inquiries will receive a thoughtful response and will remain confidential.

  • Sometimes a potential participant discovers in the course of auditioning that they are uncomfortable with production elements as they relate to nudity.  Potential participants have the right to decline casting offers without fear of reprisals such as losing future opportunities.  It is not the participant’s responsibility to explain why they chose to decline an offer.

  • During the rehearsal process, participants should voice concern if they feel uncomfortable with nudity.

  • Artists will not be subjected to:

    • Attempts to engage in sexual behaviors offstage that are choreographed for the stage, or suggestions an actor who appears naked or semi-clothed onstage or in rehearsal is not allowed physical boundaries and/or privacy backstage or in the dressing room and/or not respecting those boundaries.

    • Intentional failure to observe dressing room privacy standards laid our in this document.

    • Invitations to an actor to rehearse sexual content outside the scheduled rehearsals.

    • Repeated invitation/suggestion to take relationships of a sexual nature beyond the stage.

    • Using the text of a production that is sexual, violent, threatening, or offensive in offstage discourse.

    • Improvising sexual content without expressed consent.

 

 

 

 

 

When staging scenes of nudity and other sexual content, we will follow the same practice of consent building outlined in the Cultural Respectability Standards.  Disclosure of this type of performance will be made at the audition and the emotional risk associated will be recognized throughout the process.

 

We seek to address concerns with generosity and humility through the channels of the Concern Resolution Path as outlined in this document.

 

Artists have the right to be free from:

 

  • Sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position to confer, grant, or deny a benefit or advancement outside production content.

  • Reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance where the reprisal is made by a person in a position to grant, confer, or deny a benefit or advancement outside production content.

 

Any of the behaviors outlined here have the potential to create a negative environment for individuals or groups.  It should be noted that a person does not have to be a direct target to be adversely affected by a negative environment. It is understood that creative atmospheres are not always “emotionally sanitary”—they can safely be bawdy, profane, vulgar, and challenging.  We assert that having (A) a practice of building consent and (B) an environment that allows for response to clear boundary violations can broaden our opportunity to be challenging and fearless in our work.

 

Concerns about harassment, safety, or a negative environment should be reported using the concern resolution path (starting with level one whenever possible) and all concerns should be treated with the utmost respect for the safety and well-being of all artists.

 

Dressing Rooms Privacy Standards
 

Separate dressing rooms for male and female Actors will be provided.  

  • Dressing rooms (except quick-change booths) shall be of a permanent type, and shall not be only under canvas. 

  • Each Actor shall be provided sufficient and suitable dressing table space. All dressing rooms shall be properly heated and shall have adequate lights, mirrors, shelves and wardrobe hooks for Actors’ make-up and dressing equipment. Mirrors and dressing tables shall be thoroughly cleaned prior to the Actor’s occupancy of the dressing room. 

  • Dressing room entrances and windows shall be properly masked from the view of the audience to insure the Actor’s privacy. 

  • Separate sanitary facilities will be provided for male and female Actors. Toilets and lavatories will be clean and sanitary, and will be separate facilities from those provided for the audience. 

  • Any walkway between the dressing rooms and toilet facilities shall be masked from the view of the audience. 

 

Diversity, Inclusion, and Discrimination

 

Theatre engages the full spectrum of humanity.  Telling the stories of complex human experience often includes representations of violence, racism, homophobia, abuse, and other challenging content.  We seek an ethical atmosphere when engaging in this content, working with diverse groups of artists and other participants, and particularly when producing culturally sensitive work.  The CTS does not dictate content, casting, design, or other production elements but seeks to create respectful, safe, and equitable environments.

We acknowledge that in diverse environments, bias, and misrepresentation (both intentional and unintentional) can occur.  We seek to maintain integrity, freedom, risk, and cultural challenge within the art without sacrificing the integrity of the artists.  Responding to these issues may create awkward moments in the rehearsal process.  The CTS seeks to allow these moments to happen with integrity and respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Respectability Standards

 

  • When invited to audition, prospective artists have the right to make inquiries about how their cultural personhood will be used within the production, particularly when the work will be devised (when there is no script at the time of the audition).  Inquiries will receive a thoughtful response and will remain confidential.

  • Sometimes a potential participant discovers in the course of auditioning that they are uncomfortable with production elements as they relate to their personhood.  Potential participants have the right to decline casting offers without fear of reprisals such as losing future opportunities.  It is not the participant’s responsibility to explain why they chose to decline an offer.

  • Whenever possible, diversity and inclusion should be considered both in casting and in assembling production and design teams.  In particular, culturally specific work should seek production personnel who can speak to that cultural experience.

  • During the rehearsal process, participants should voice concern if they feel uncomfortable with the use of their cultural personhood, which may include:

    • Costume pieces that can be reasonably understood to be culturally demeaning, which were not disclosed at auditions/casting and could not have been expected by a reading of the script or otherwise available materials.

    • Staging (culturally based violence or abuse, for example) which was not disclosed at the time auditions/casting.

    • Accents or dialects to underscore a cultural representation not disclosed at the time of auditions/casting.

    • Make-up that can reasonably be described as “black-face,” “brown-face,” or similar portrayals of racial backgrounds not disclosed at the time of the auditions.

 

When staging scenes of cultural violence, or other culturally charges narratives and language, we will follow the same practice of consent building outlined in the Sexual Content and Nudity Standard.  Disclosure of this type of performance will be make at the audition and the emotional risk associated will be recognized throughout the process.

 

We seek to address concerns with generosity and humility through the channels of the Concern Resolution Path as outlined in this document.

 

Concern Resolution Path

 

A concern resolution path describes the process of reporting a complaint and the responsibilities of those involved in responding to a complaint.  A resolution path consists of:

 

  • When activating the concern resolution path, one is encouraged to submit complaints in writing to the appropriate parties delineated in the complaint path structure.

  • It should be make clear that submitting a complaint is a serious mechanism and be used with purpose.

 

Structure          

 

  • Level One: a concern that can be resolved through conversation with the parties involved.

  • Level Two: The following staff should eb granted a certain level of authority and trust to determine whether a complaint can be resolved at this level or if it needs to be sent to the next level.  All complaints should be reported to Level Three, even if no action is required.  As defined by the MSF, all of the following are the advocates and avenues for your on the level two path:

    • STAGE MANAGER: Stefanie Din

    • EQUITY DEPUTY: (name to be given)

  • Level Three: these people should be considered the final level of the path, capable of resolving issued that have not been resolved prior to reaching this stage.  They are strongly advised to consult with each other an review legal or other implications of any decision.

    • ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Janice L Blixt

    • FESTIVAL LAWYER: Alexandra LaCombe

 

Thank you for your cooperation with all of these matters and your work for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.  We look forward to a great time working together.