Sarah Polley, Mia Kirshner and Ann-Marie MacDonald are among the nearly 300 people who have signed a letter supporting the four actresses suing Soulpepper Theatre Company and its founding artistic director Albert Schultz for sexual harassment.
The letter, dated Monday, calls on Soulpepper’s board of directors to “acknowledge the harm” allegedly suffered by the women, and adds “we also believe that there are more stories like theirs that have not been told.”
Schultz resigned Thursday in the wake of the lawsuits filed by Diana Bentley, Kristin Booth, Patricia Fagan and Hannah Miller.
In their four statements of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court, the women allege Schultz groped them, exposed himself, pressed against them, or otherwise behaved inappropriately.
None of their allegations have been tested in court and neither Schultz nor Soulpepper have filed a statement of defence. Schultz said he will “vigorously defend” himself against the allegations.
Polley and Kirshner have spoken out about their own experiences with sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. Both have alleged they had uncomfortable encounters with fallen Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
MacDonald alleged last week that she experienced “exploitation, bullying and harassment” while working as an actress with Soulpepper in 2008. She alleged Soulpepper leaders laughed off her concerns about a fundraiser that auctioned off dinners with female actresses without their prior consent.
The supporters of the letter say they look forward to Soulpepper’s board revealing the “concrete steps it is taking to ensure that Soulpepper is a safe environment, where abuse and harassment cannot be tolerated, and where art can flourish.”
Others who signed the letter include Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon, who starred in the Soulpepper production of Kim’s Convenience and the subsequent TV adaptation for CBC.
Actresses Tara Spencer-Nairn of Corner Gas, Kristin Kreuk of Smallville and Amanda Brugel of The Handmaid’s Tale also added their names to the letter.
by THE CANADIAN PRESS