This weekend was supposed to mark the end of the run of The Wild Party at the Auckland Music Theatre(AMT) in Auckland, New Zealand. Instead, the final performances were canceled following allegations of a sexual assault that took place between two cast members.
Along with the cancellation notice, Auckland Music Theatre Chairperson Richard Neame, released the following statement:
Auckland Music Theatre Incorporated is aware that several company members from its production of The Wild Party were involved in a late night incident at a bar in Ponsonby last weekend.
The alleged incident took place off our premises, and the social event was not arranged by Auckland Music Theatre Inc.
As the safety of our members is paramount and as a result of the alleged incident, Auckland Music Theatre Inc. made the difficult decision to cancel its final five performances of The Wild Party to ensure the safety of all its members.
We understand the disappointment cancelling the show may have caused some of our members.
Due to the seriousness of the alleged incident, we sincerely hope all the affected parties seek support from the most appropriate agencies.
Auckland Music Theatre Incorporated
While many in the cast and community are concerned for the alleged victim, they are also asking questions and demanding answers from theatre leadership. There are comments on social media suggesting that AMT leadership were warned about the alleged perpetrator, possibly by a previous victim, and cast them anyway.
One comment under Neame's statement read as follows:
"The alleged assaulter was warned about in multiple conversations with Auckland Music Theatre at the start of the year, which should have, at the very least, sparked the creation of sexual assault complaint policies. Had the complaints in January/February been taken into account in informing such protocols then the alleged assaulter would not have been provided the opportunity to assault their most recent victim."
I am also being told that it wasn't so much that AMT canceled the performance, but instead, that the cast refused to perform due to the theatre's lack of action. Should this be true, then leaders at AMT have some questions to answer. But some in the community aren't going to wait.
A petition is already being circulated demanding that AMT draft documents of best practices involving sexual misconduct. It states:
"We would love to see Auckland Music Theatre and the wider theatre community support us as we lead this effort. We aim to work with key experts and theatre stakeholders in order to create robust processes, so that all artistic organisations are prepared for the (hopefully unlikely) event that any sexual misconduct should occur in the future."
The petition had a goal of 1,000 signatures. As of the time of writing this, they are at 960.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.