It's not your average theater performance, and it's not your average problem for the actors involved: audience members who grope them. As BuzzFeed explains, the popular Sleep No More production at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City is a "blood-and-sex filled adaptation of MacBeth" in which cast members often interact with the audience. In some scenes, actors are naked. Audience members, meanwhile, wear white masks that make them anonymous, are separated from the people they came with, and are encouraged to drink at the bar before the show. The result? BuzzFeed talks to eight former cast members, male and female, who were groped over the years, and the site confirmed 17 instances of groping or sexual harassment by audience members.
“Once you gave people a mask, it was carte blanche to let them do whatever they wanted,” says one former staffer. The story cites emails from staffers showing concerns about the problem going back to the show's first year in 2011. An original female cast member says she was groped three times in 17 months, and the story includes an email in which she writes, “There should be a little phrase added to the entry speech about NOT TOUCHING PERFORMERS.” She adds that the audience is told, "Fortune favors the bold" before the show, which some drunk patrons interpret to mean, "Do whatever you want to performers." The hotel and the Emursive production company say they take the safety of the cast members seriously and have safeguards and training in place. Read the full story. (Read more groping stories.)