The recent news stories concerning the allegations against Soulpepper’s former Artistic Director, Albert Shultz, have hit particularly close to home for me.
I’m an actor living in Toronto and I went to George Brown Theatre School (which happens to be in the same building as Soulpepper), and while I have never been in a Soulpepper play, I have been to parties backstage a number of times after openings. I experienced and witnessed inappropriate behaviour on both sides of the building: bullying and other verbal abuse from some of my teachers at theatre school and misconduct from Soulpepper’s former Artistic Director.
These experiences were humiliating and traumatizing, but I was told that I needed to suck it up if I was going to survive in the industry. One of my teachers at George Brown even said outright that his abuse toward me was part of his job and was necessary to prepare me for the “real world.” I have been working in the industry for a number of years and I have not found the “real world” to be so abusive; however, it seems that is exactly what was happening across the hall at Soulpepper.