Shifting the Landscape: Why Changing Actor Training Matters in Light of the #MeToo Movement | Coffey | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


From the left: Vanessa Coffey, Hilary Jones, Mccallister Selva and Thomas Zachar during the 'Change - now!' conference, Teatr Ochoty, Warsaw, 7 October 2019, photo: Marta Ankiersztejn
Vanessa Coffey, Hilary Jones, Mccallister Selva, Thomas Zachar

Shifting the Landscape: Why Changing Actor Training Matters in Light of the #MeToo Movement


On October the 15th 2017, the American actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the phrase #MeToo to openly declare her experience of sexual harassment by the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. By the end of the following day, MeToo had been re-tweeted more than half a million times and on Facebook received more than 12 million posts in 24 hours. Finally, the lid was being lifted on decades of abuse and harassment in the entertainment industry. There was an immediate response from British theatre with leading directors calling for a sea-change. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland already had strategies to ensure respect and tolerance in the training of its young artists. Alongside additional policies directly linked to the aftermath of MeToo, we also enabled a new role, that of Intimacy Choreographer.


Acting; Theatre school; Ethics; Sexual Harassment

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Vanessa Coffey

has a background as a corporate lawyer and after re-training as an actor, now works as a lecturer at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (while continuing to work professionally as a movement director and actor). Her experience across acting, movement directing, and teaching means she offers a unique set of skills which enable her to negotiate sympathetically between actors, directors, casting directors and crew. It also allows her to craft a scene to achieve the desired outcome, while keeping performers safe – her main goal and purpose as an Intimacy Coordinator.

Hilary Jones

A lecturer in ‘The Centre For Voice in Performance at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, with a specialist remit for Accents and Dialects and Voice for Media. She previously taught at a number of major UK drama schools, including Central, RWCMD, Rose Bruford and GSA. Her international profile includes training for The Singapore Broadcasting Company, Flinders University and the Sydney Conservatoire in Australia, and for ISTA in Istanbul and Amsterdam. She was visiting Voice Professor at The Academy of Film and Theatre in
Bucharest and voice coach for the award winning Biuro Podróży Theatre in Poland. Closer to home, she has coached on productions for The National Theatre of Scotland and The Royal Court in London. Recent TV and film work includes include Lip Service for Kudos (BBC3) Case Histories, Waterloo Road (BBC) and You Instead for Sigma Films. Hilary was also dialect coach on the recent film The Wife for which Glenn Close was awarded a Golden Globe. Hilary has a particular research interest in ‘Performance Stress’, was a founding member of ISSTIP and has acted in an advisory capacity for the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine. Research findings on the role of EMDR in vocal training were presented at a number of conferences in London, York, Lancaster and Edinburgh from 2010 onwards. In November 2019 Hilary will be travelling to Atlanta to work on a new programme teaching voice and dialect for the video games industry.

Mccallister Selva

is a third-year student on the acting programme at RCS.

Thomas Zachar

 is a third-year student on the acting programme at RCS.