Consent & communication at work
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
HERA, Houselights and Intimacy Directors International present
Consent & communication at work:
A training day for performers in opera, with workshops on onstage intimacy, and sexual harassment.
We should all be, and feel, safe at work. After #MeToo it’s impossible to ignore the fact that people working in the arts haven’t always had the safe environment they deserve. As a very hierarchical, male-dominated industry, where work is freelance and insecure, and careers difficult to build, opera shares many of the factors that have made performers in film and theatre especially vulnerable. But it can and must change.
We’ve had a lot of conversations recently about how intimacy is staged in opera: from sexual images and close proximity, to embraces and kisses, and sometimes sexual violence. We know that it can be difficult and uncomfortable. It’s obvious to us that consent matters in rehearsal and onstage just as much as it does anywhere else, and that having boundaries doesn’t make a performer uncreative or ‘awkward’. We’re really pleased to be able to offer a workshop with Yarit Dor (of Intimacy Directors International) on consensual creativity, that will explore both best practice and how performers can communicate their needs effectively in real life scenarios.
We were excited to attend the launch of Houselights in 2018, and have been following the amazing work they do. Houselights training helps actors to enter their profession feeling well-informed about their rights, about what constitutes sexual harassment, and the support that is available. Their approach is positive and constructive: delivering practical training that empowers performers. We’re really happy that they agreed to work with us to bring their expertise into opera, and create a workshop tailored to your needs.
These two sessions are just for performers, without employers or directors present, so a panel session in the afternoon will give you chance to hear from industry figures including representatives of opera companies and unions (Equity and the MU) on what policies and structures of support are already in place, and how they can be improved.
These workshops are open to all onstage performers at any stage of their career or in training. All genders are welcome. There is no requirement to discuss personal experiences in either of these workshops. The Staging Intimacy workshop will involve practical exercises, but consent is paramount, and you can choose to sit out and observe at any time. If you’d like to talk to us, or ask us anything before attending, or if you’d like to discuss your access needs, please do get in touch.