New York -- Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has issued the following statement in response to news of a leak of photos and videos of a Second Stage Theater production featuring Equity members performing naked:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the creation and distribution of photographs and videos of our members during a nude scene," said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. "As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable onstage in order to tell difficult and challenging stories. This does not mean that we agree to have those vulnerable moments widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater. Whoever did this knew not only that they were filming actors without their consent, but also that they were explicitly violating the theater’s prohibition on recording and distribution.
"At every performance, there is a mutual understanding between the audience and the performers that we are sharing an experience limited to this time and place; that trust makes it possible for us to be exposed both emotionally and physically. Trampling on this agreement by capturing and distributing these photographs and videos is both sexual harassment and an appalling breach of consent. It is a violation that impedes our collective ability to tell stories with boldness and bravery."
Second Stage Theater offered the following statement:
"Second Stage Theater has worked to ensure the privacy of the Take Me Out company by creating a phone-free space with locked phone cases at all performances. We are appalled that this policy has been violated and unauthorized footage of our acting company has been posted. It is deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production, their fellow audience members and, most importantly, the cast in this manner. Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have severe legal consequences. Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theatre community. We are actively pursuing takedown requests and ask that no one participates in the distribution of these images. Second Stage is also adding additional staff at the theater to enforce the policy."
The union urges any members who are experiencing harassment in the workplace, from any source, to call their business representative. The member portal also contains resources on protections against harassment and discrimination, including a one-sheet PDF that includes contact information, descriptions of Equity and employers’ respective roles in prevention and more. The Entertainment Community Fund, which has collaborated with Equity in issues of workplace harassment, offers resources as well.
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks
May 10, 2022