I was woken on Saturday morning by a text from a friend to let me know the Gate Theatre will not be publishing the report from the investigation they commissioned into bullying and harassment at the theatre. I cannot begin to describe my frustration at this news. As one of the 56 people who participated in this investigation, I am disappointed and furious at this decision.

When I talked to Gaye Cunningham (an adjudication officer with the Workplace Relations Commission who was brought in by the theatre to conduct the investigation) she was hoping to be able to frame what she wrote in a way that would allow for publication. She has since confirmed this aspiration and her own disappointment that the report will not be made public. Under legal advice, the board of the Gate have decided against publishing for fear of proceedings being brought against them. The theatre community has been quick to decry this decision as insulting to those who took part in the investigation. On Sunday night, the presenters of the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards ceremony, Amy Conroy and Claire Barrett, brought an inflatable elephant on stage, in a darkly comedic reference to the one in the room.

This is a defining moment for Irish theatre; we may find that it also turns out to be a defining moment for our society, which has struggled for so long under a status quo of secrecy and fear.

The Gate board commissioned this investigation and designed the process without consulting with the people who have been affected. As a result, many women who have stories to tell decided not to participate as they believed the process to be inherently flawed. Some of these women had already taken the difficult step of recounting their experiences publicly, including director Grace Dyas who courageously broke the story on her blog. Those of us who did participate in the investigation did so with the hope that the truth would out. For many, this was not an easy decision. As one colleague posted on Facebook on Sunday: "We all went and spoke to Gaye, a stranger, about our experiences. It was upsetting and embarrassing. We were all pulled back into that place, that headspace. Sleepless nights. Worry."

I fear the board will have damaged the reputation of the theatre even further. I have been hearing of actors who are cast in upcoming productions and are feeling ashamed about the prospect of working there.

The people I know who participated in the investigation did so out of a sense of wanting to make the Gate a better place to work; many of us have a strong sense of loyalty to and pride in the theatre. None of us want to see the theatre itself in jeopardy as a result of the actions of one man. I am glad to see that the Board have published the recommendations from the report, and have committed to implementing them in their entirety. However, unless it takes some kind of further action that is visible, seismic, and transparent, I fear the board will have damaged the reputation of the theatre even further. I have been hearing of actors who are cast in upcoming productions and are feeling ashamed about the prospect of working there, which angers me even more. This is not their shame to bear.

On Sunday night, the presenters of the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards ceremony, Amy Conroy and Claire Barrett, brought an inflatable elephant on stage, in a darkly comedic reference to the one in the room.

There are many difficult decisions ahead for the directors of the Gate board. Some are calling for their resignation, as well as those calling for the report to be published despite the potential financial risk to the company. My one piece of advice to them is: listen. Listen to the community – without our support, the Gate may founder. Above all, listen to the people who have been bullied, harassed and abused while under the auspices of the theatre. Find a way to formally ask what they want to come out of this process, and work together to envision what the best possible outcome could be. Only then can the board make the best decision for the theatre. This is a defining moment for Irish theatre; we may find that it also turns out to be a defining moment for our society, which has struggled for so long under a status quo of secrecy and fear. Now is an opportunity to find a new way of dealing with the shame and trauma of past abuses.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ