Adopting the OST Standards is a process that engages every level of our producing organization from season-selection through strike. This process requires a balance wherein the Standards are present without stifling creativity or causing participants to feel hesitant or distracted. One extreme would be filing the document away in a drawer and forgetting about it until a problem comes up. The other extreme would be a policed environment in which this document became a tool for punishment or judgment.
- The Standards should be discussed at every level of the company, including company and board meetings. Everyone from the Board Chair to administrative staff to ensemble members to visiting participants should be encouraged to read the document, understand the company’s commitment to its adoption, and any responsibilities each participant may have.
- The Standards should be discussed as early as season selection meetings and pre-production meetings. Many problems can be avoided when safety issues are a regular part of pre-production discussions. For example, if a company cannot afford safe rigging, it should avoid plays that require aerial work. If a company cannot afford a fight choreographer, then a play with onstage violence might not be in the cards.
- Prospective Stage Managers/Assistant Directors should be informed that this document is being used with enough time for them to review the document and discuss the additional procedures and responsibilities.
- The casting authority has an important role to play, and should be well versed in the document, particularly the audition section.
- The Standards requires a thorough presentation on the first day of rehearsal. This is when participants with no exposure to the Standards will first encounter it. Taking the time to discuss the Standards in the first rehearsal will increase the chances of success with the Standards. Getting off on the right foot is essential to this process and the First Day Implementation Notes are designed to help.
- Standards protocols throughout the rehearsal process, particularly for high-risk content, ie. Violence, Sexual Content, or Nudity (SC/N).
- Many elements of the Standards come into play during tech. Taking the time to visit safety, privacy, and other Standards elements helps to prevent problems before they happen.
- The Standards offers suggestions for preventions and responses to issues throughout the run.
- This document seeks to prevent some issues, but given that the document encourages those with concerns to come forward, it’s recommended that theatres avail themselves of conflict resolution techniques.
First Day Implementation Notes
Creating a script for first rehearsals can make sure that all of the important points are covered. This script should be delivered by one or more representatives of the producing theatre (the Stage Manager, the Director, and/or the Concern Resolution Facilitator)
See the appendix section of this document for a First Rehearsal Script example, a sample Concern Resolution Path (CRP) document, including an Oops/Ouch approach for handling issues when they arise.
Here are some of the most important things to present at the First Rehearsal:
- Tell the company why you’ve chosen to adapt Chicago Theatre Standards for Harassment, High Risk Productions: Nudity, Violence and Sexual Content and The Concern Resolution Path (CRP)
- Distribute the Concern Resolution Path (CRP). The CRP documents communication pathways for resolving concerns before they get out of hand, to inform participants who to talk to if issues arise, to avoid repeated unsafe practices, and to mentor those who violate boundaries. The CRP and Concern Resolution Facilitator (CRF) are designed to provide confidential reporting channels that support and protect everyone, including the person/s that create concern. Gossiping with those outside the reporting channels, or creating an atmosphere of “heroes and villains” can result in an inability to use the document to mentor and resolve issues peacefully. There are gray areas on stage. People can get hurt physically and/or emotionally without there being a “bad guy.” In every possible situation, the CRP should be used to mentor participants, and nurture a positive and safe environment.
- Discuss the Concern Resolution Facilitator (CRF). The CRF is a confidential liaison (reporting channel) between participants, the stage manager, and others on the Concern Resolution Path. The CRF does not decide who’s right and wrong, or even necessarily solve problems, but helps to ensure that communication paths are open. The CRF cannot hold any other OST Company Office or otherwise be in a perceived position of power. The CRF for the 2018-2019 Season will be appointed by elected Company Managers.
- Point out areas of the Standards that are particularly pertinent to the production. If there are high-risk elements in the production (sexual content, fights, nudity) suggest that the participants read those sections of the document in the interest of letting them know that safety protocols have been a part of the planning process for the production.
- Producers are not asked to distribute hard-copies of the entire document, but please tell the company that they can read the document online at www.openstage.com.
Concern Resolution Path (CRP)
The goal of the CRP is to provide a documented communication pathway to address issues in a production or within an organization. The CRP seeks to inform participants what to do and who to address with serious issues, and dispel the fear of reprisal for reporting issues of safety, harassment, or other serious concerns.
This Concern Resolution Path should be printed and distributed to all participants and discussed on the first day of rehearsal. It should be clearly communicated that the producer seeks to resolve concerns early, before participants or the production are put at risk and before the concern escalates.
What is a concern resolution path?
The CRP provides names and contact information for members of the organization and production who have agreed to be responsive to reported issues and work to resolve them. It consists of:
- A written, clear, and transparently shared list of procedures for addressing a concern;
- A written, clear, and transparently shared list of persons with whom the concern should be addressed;
- A commitment to give reported concerns priority and a reasonable timeline for resolution.
- Level One (Dialogue) We recognize that many concerns can be resolved through conversation with the parties involved. Whenever possible, participants should be encouraged to discuss challenges and concerns with one another. Sharing and hearing concerns with openness and respect can prevent situations from escalating further.
- Level Two (Assistance) If participants are not comfortable directly addressing the individual(s) involved OR if no resolution can be agreed upon, any of the following individuals can be contacted for assistance in addressing the concern.
- Concern Resolution Facilitator (CRF)
- Stage Manager/Assistant Manager
- Production Manager (for the specific production)
- These participants should be granted a certain level of authority and trust to determine whether a concern can be resolved at this level or if it needs to be sent to the next level. All concerns should be reported to Level three, even if no action is required.
- Level Three (Consultation & Review) These participants should be considered the final level of the path, capable of resolving issues that have not been resolved prior to reaching this stage. They are strongly advised to consult with each other and review legal or other implications of any decision.
- Managing Director
- Designated Board Member
- Board President
- The CRP should be verbally explained and provided in writing at the first rehearsal (digitally and/or in print). It should include the name, title, and contact information for every individual on the CRP.
- A copy of the CRP should be posted or otherwise available in the rehearsal, performance and production spaces.
- Participants should be encouraged to report their concerns in writing for recordkeeping purposes.
- The company should maintain personnel files, which should include reported concerns. Such files are to be kept confidential and accessible only to the Managing Director and the Designated Board Member.
- In the event of civil or criminal misconduct or liability, the Standards is not a replacement for legal advice or action, nor does it stand instead of any local, state or federal law.
- A violation of civil rights can be reported to the Colorado Attorney General: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/civil-rights
- Producers should complete a CRP with the names and contact information of all individuals who will serve on the path for each production.
- The CRP is a tool to help create communication pathways to prevent and resolve issues, not create divisions. To that end, nothing in the Standards encourages firing or marginalizing participants for mistakes, a momentary loss of temper, an argument (whether artistic or personal), a single unintentional injury, etc. The CRP is designed to provide pathways to respond to events, behavior, and conditions that create reasonably understood unsafe conditions, not uncomfortable situations. The function and goal of the CRP should be discussed at the first rehearsal.
- Some of the individuals on the CRP will change with each production, and it should be updated for each production.
- All individuals listed on the CRP should understand their role in resolving concerns, the process for recording concerns, and the process for reporting those concerns to others on the path.
- Creating and using a Concern Resolution Path can assist with recordkeeping.
- The individuals listed on the CRP should be provided with resources and/or training in conflict resolution and how to respond consistently to concerns that are shared.
The Role of the Stage Manager/Assistant Director Regarding the Standards
The Stage Manager (SM)/Assistant Director (AD) is traditionally the primary communication conduit between participants and producers as well as between actors and directors; and so plays a crucial role in executing the Standards. The goal of this standard is to respect that the additional responsibilities of the SM/AD in theatres that use the Standards compliment the expertise and authority of the SM as a leader and advocate throughout the production.
The Stage Manager/Assistant Director responsibilities with regards to the Standards are:
- Read and be familiar with the Standards.
- Know and follow the theatre’s published CRP.
- Ensure that consent is discussed before scenes of sexual content and nudity and document applicable specifics.
- Document all choreography, including sexual content. The Stage Manager must be present for all rehearsals when choreography is rehearsed.
- Work with and communicate with the Concern Resolution Facilitator, particularly regarding any raised concern.
- SM/AD’s should be told if an organization has adopted the Standards before they commit to a production.
- SM/ADs should have access to the script, or known scope of a production, before they agree to participate.
Concern Resolution Facilitator (CRF)
The goal of the Concern Resolution Facilitator (CRF) is to create a confidential and peer-level liaison reporting channel between participants and the producer. Communicating concerns can be challenging. Participants often have long-standing relationships, aspirations for future collaboration, or a fear of being labeled “difficult.” Any of these might dissuade a participant from voicing a concern. The CRF can help to alleviate this tension.
The Concern Resolution Facilitator (CRF) does not report to any outside regulatory body, since the Standards are a tool for self-regulation. The Facilitator navigates the Standards for participants over the course of a season and can serve as a reporting channel for an individual participant or an acting company when confidentiality is required or requested, and may also serve (alongside the Stage Manager/Assistant Director) as a first contact when a concern cannot be resolved by an individual.
Role and Responsibilities of the Concern Resolution Facilitator
- Become familiar with the Standards, CRP, and any related policies and procedures provided (see: talking points script)
- Help familiarize others with the Standards, the CRP and talking points script.
- Provide contact information and availability for consultation outside of rehearsal/performance space/hours.
- Serve as a liaison between the cast, crew, stage manager, and producer for issues brought to attention by participants.
- Protect confidentiality
- Report concerns, both their own and those reported by fellow participants, using the CRP, and communicate the resolution of such concerns to fellow participants as appropriate.
- Respond to concerns as quickly as possible (within 24 hours whenever possible).
- Commit with integrity and empathy to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of participants and discourage efforts (intentional or otherwise) to use the Standards to divide or create an atmosphere of “heroes and villains.”
- Engage the CRP if the SM is unable, unwilling, or is the individual of concern.
- Understand that their role is not to solve problems or act in a judiciary role, but serve as a confidential reporting channel and liaison.
- Understand that their role is one of service, and not a position of power or status.
Outside of the Facilitator’s Scope
- The Facilitator should not override traditional roles of the SM/AD, director, or any other member of the organization.
- The Facilitator should never create divisions or marginalize participants.
Implementation Notes (how to select a CRF)
- OST Staff and Company Officers will select a CRF for the season. This person should not have other company management roles or be in a position of power.
- For theatres with acting ensembles, the Facilitator should not be a member of that ensemble.