Writers Theatre production will open amid harassment investigation

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Michael Halberstam | JOE MAZZA

Joe Mazza

Previews began Nov. 8 as scheduled for Writers Theatre’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” directed by artistic director Michael Halberstam, who last week faced allegations of sexual harassment by a former colleague.

In response to questions by the Sun-Times via email Saturday, theater spokesperson Natalie Bauer Luce said, “The production has not been impacted. Audience feedback has been very positive. There have been communications with the cast and crew, outlining the actions being taken to investigate the claim and emphasizing that the Theatre’s priority is to provide a safe working environment for all.”

The Glencoe theater’s board of directors last week released a statement saying they are “committed to ensuring a safe work environment, free of inappropriate conduct.”

Luce on Saturday confirmed the theater has a written policy regarding harassment “included in the staff handbook … and posted on site for all show personnel.” In addition, she said Writers “also supports and abides by the Actor’s Equity harassment policy requirements.”

The allegations against Halberstam, who has worked in Chicago theater for more than 25 years, including more than 40 productions at Writers, were made via as series of tweets by Tom Robson, who said he was the assistant director and dramaturg for Writers’ 2003 production of “Crime & Punishment.”

When asked if Halberstam will be present for the production’s opening night Nov. 15, Luce said plans for the evening were still being finalized.

“Writers Theatre takes [the allegation claim] very seriously and is working expeditiously to investigate,” Luce added. “We appreciate our community of supporters to allow that process to play out and to enable the Theatre to take appropriate action once the facts are fully known.”

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