(Less funny story)
15 years ago when I was a young actress, I was cast in a series of short plays in a reputable theatre in Melbourne. One of the plays was a two hander where I woke up in a bed naked next to my gay best friend. Tears, thrashing linen and arguments ensued before I raged off the stage.
In the second play, I was one of three beautiful young women who simulated the rape of the central protagonist with a broomstick. Only the protagonist was the writer, director and the actor and I realised that the fiction I was participating in wasn’t a fiction at all. I remember it made my guts feel funny and I experienced an overwhelming sensation of it being ‘wrong’.
I saw an article recently applauding this man, celebrating his eccentricities and his continuing commitment to the ‘staging of his life.’ Then bizarrely, a couple of days ago, I bumped into the actor from the first play (my gay BF) in a bar in London. We recalled how hideous the process had made us feel. I joked that I wasn’t threatened by his naked self in the bed because he was gay and he quickly pointed out that his sexual orientation should have had nothing to to do with my sense of security and he was right. Maybe to my naive young self his sexuality offered some assurance that I would not be preyed upon. Indeed, we were both subjugated by the writer/director of this play, willing participants to this man’s perverted party. Then the doorbell rang and the other invitees (audience) arrived to admire the disturbing spectacle. Every night at the same time. Gross. The generous young ingenue and the manipulative white cis-male is not a new story but one that needs to be re-told as a warning. Because unsurprisingly these narratives still exist and these megalomaniac male directors, casting couch cardinals and gateway keepers to the ‘golden star strewn acting career’ continue to be take advantage of all the little me’s. Sometimes it will be a bit grey, you will have peers telling you it’s fine, you are being OTT, you need to suck it up and be ‘professional’. But if you feel like it’s not cool, then it’s probably not. You don’t need to work with these guys to be an actor.
Wish I had been around to tell my 19 year old self that.