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The letter, titled “Harassment at Soulpepper Theatre Company,” says the artists say they were prepared to refuse to work with the company “as a sign of solidarity” with the four women alleging harassment by Schultz, its former artistic director, as long as he had some role with the company.
Last week, Diana Bentley, Kristin Booth, Patricia Fagan and Hannah Miller took aim at Schultz with four separate civil suits, claiming unwanted sexual touching, groping and harassment over a period spanning 13 years. The statements of claim also named Soulpepper Theatre among their respondents.
On Saturday, the company announced that it had cut ties with Schultz’s wife and the company’s executive director, Leslie Lester, while cancelling a planned production of Amadeus that had been scheduled to run next week.
“However, the litigation continues, and we call on the Board of Soulpepper to acknowledge the harm these women, and others, have suffered,” the letter continues, saying the artists look forward to the company announcing “concrete steps” to ensure a safe environment where harassment is not tolerated.
For its part, the executive committee of the company’s board of directors has said they had no knowledge of any allegations of Schultz engaging in harassment. Nor were any complaints made to the board, said a statement Saturday.
Schultz has been a titan in Canada’s theatre scene for more than three decades. Under his leadership, Soulpepper grew into one of the most important theatre companies in the country. He has earned a long list of accolades, including a Gemini and the Order of Canada.
News of the allegations against him sent shockwaves through the arts community, with some theatregoers, including Rachel McMillan, saying the claims felt like a “betrayal” from someone who was “the face and representation of all that’s wonderful about theatre in Toronto,” given Soulpepper’s role in shining the spotlight on the city’s diversity.
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