I will confess forthwith that I had thespian aspirations in my early years. Indeed, I attended a full-time acting school on the mean streets of East Sydney back in the day. I vividly remember wearing a black leotard, ballet shoes, and doing realistic mime inside our dilapidated warehouse facility. It was not a time of romanticised memories but a challenging grind. Acting is hard work and being real and in the moment is a craft. Actors must cross boundaries of personal space, enter emotional borderlands, and source springs of passion and sexuality. You cannot be a truthful actor if you are unwilling to cross over into these, sometimes, taboo territories. This is what sets the actor apart from everyone else. Now, however, the acting profession faces a MeToo dilemma.

Actors by Necessity Must Explore Stimuli

How can an actor delve into dangerous territory, like sexuality, and, then, find himself or herself, accused of inappropriate touching on stage or in rehearsal? The acting profession has historically been looked upon as degrading and immoral by those who care most about what other people think of them. Actors have performed as clowns, tramps, prostitutes, as well as heroes and heroines. Actors by necessity must investigate their own responses and feelings toward a variety of stimuli. Their workplace is not defined in the same way, as many other workplaces are. The stage is a place where feelings and sensations are stewed in search of alchemical reactions.

A Major MeToo Problem for the Performing Arts

The recent furore over allegations made by a young actress, and reported by The Daily Telegraph, that Geoffrey Rush allegedly touched her breasts and back during a performance at the Sydney Theatre Company in a 2015-16 production of King Lear has sparked the MeToo maelstrom. I find it hard to understand how someone who purports to be a career actor can be overly concerned about inappropriate touching. This is not the producer screwing wannabe actors via the misuse pf power. Rather, this most likely is related to the characterisation and interrelationship between characters onstage. Do we want to see sanitised and fearful light-weight performances by actors afraid to go to the well because they may be pilloried by newspapers and public opinion? This may well become a major problem for the performing arts industry.

Why go to the theatre at all if it is bereft of magic? You may as well stay in and watch Home and Away.