Writers Theatre investigates alleged sexual harassment by Halberstam

Monday, 06 November 2017, 04:28:08 AM. The Glencoe company's board says a consultant is looking into claims against the longtime artistic director.

Writers Theatre in north suburban Glencoe is investigating a claim that its longtime artistic director, Michael Halberstam, was involved in sexual harassment, the theater’s board of directors said Sunday.

In a statement, the board said members became aware of an allegation on Thursday and hired “an experienced human resources consultant” to look into the claim. Halberstam is cooperating, the board said.

The board, the statement said, “is committed to ensuring a safe work environment, free of inappropriate conduct.” Members and staff are not commenting further.

The statement gave no details about the incident in question, but allegations were made Thursday in a series of tweets by Tom Robson, who said he was the assistant director and dramaturg for Writers’ landmark 2003 production of “Crime & Punishment.”

Robson detailed acts of harassment toward him that he said were committed by Halberstam, the play’s director. Robson was 23 at the time. He now lives in Decatur, Illinois, where he is an associate professor of theater at Milliken University.

Chicago’s theater community will gather Monday night at the Drury Lane Oakbrook to honor the best in Chicago-area Equity stage artists and productions at the 48th annual Joseph Jefferson Awards ceremony gala. Receiving a special tribute will be Writers Theatre artistic director Michael Halberstam, being honored for his “outstanding theatrical accomplishments and contributions to Chicagoland theater for the past 25 years.”

Writers has developed a substantial following since its debut in the back room of a Glencoe book store in 1992. In February 2016, the company moved to a new, state-of-the-art, Studio Gang Architects-designed permanent home in downtown Glencoe, and later that year Halberstam received a special Joseph Jefferson Award honoring his “outstanding theatrical accomplishments and contributions to Chicagoland theater for the past 25 years.”

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