Actor Mia Kirshner, filmmaker Sarah Polley and author Ann-Marie MacDonald are among hundreds of artists who released an open letter Monday morning supporting the four women who have filed civil lawsuits against Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre Company and former artistic director Albert Schultz, alleging years of sexual harassment and assault by Mr. Schultz both on stage and off.
Major figures in Canadian theatre, such as playwrights Michael Healey and Daniel MacIvor, are signatories to a letter directed at Soulpepper's board of directors that states they "believe the allegations … raised against Albert Schultz and Soulpepper," as are actors Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon, the stars of Kim's Convenience, the CBC-TV spinoff of a Soulpepper play that is executive-produced by Mr. Schultz. (Mr. Schultz, an actor and director, also appeared in Ms. Polley's recent television series, Alias Grace.)
"Last week, Diana Bentley, Kristin Booth, Patricia Fagan, and Hannah Miller broke a decades-long silence," the letter reads. "We believe the allegations they raised against Albert Schultz and Soulpepper Theatre Company. We also believe that there are more stories like theirs that have not been told."
The letter's 280 signatories call on Soulpepper's board to "acknowledge the harm these women, and others, have suffered."
"In the coming weeks, we look forward to the board's announcement of 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," the letter concludes.
Mr. Schultz resigned as artistic director at the request of the board on Thursday – and, over the weekend, the theatre company said it had "severed its relationship" with its long-time executive director Leslie Lester, who is married to Mr. Schultz.
Mr. Schultz has vowed to "vigorously defend" himself against the allegations that have been levelled against him in the lawsuits. None of the allegations have been proven in court.