This is a collective introduction to a number of texts written by artists, writers, actors and producers, who have worked with Chris Goode since 2011.
For anyone who might not know, Goode was an influential writer, blogger, theatre-maker and director in British theatre. He was also an abuser who hurt many adult people, over many years. He misused his power as a director, employer and lauded artist, and wilfully obscured this through misusing the languages of contemporary performance, queer liberation, and safeguarding policy. As a consequence, for many years his abuses and harms were misinterpreted, overlooked and denied.
Since 2017, a number of people who worked with Goode have been gathering to address these acts of harm and abuse, to bring them to light, and to prevent them continuing. Since his death in June 2021, this group has also worked to organise support for some with direct experience of his practices. This has included informal spaces for connection and reflection; fundraising for therapeutic support for individuals; and facilitated spaces for group conversation that can address ongoing conflict.
The texts collected here have been written alongside and as part of these reparative efforts. While we endeavour to resist the culture of silence that surrounds Goode’s practices, we acknowledge the vulnerabilities of many who were harmed by this work, and the ways in which they might be harmed again by public writing. As we now open our conversation out to a broader community, we continue to prioritise the ideals of bridging and care.
We hope that this complex and painful history can take on a legacy of learning, transformation and growth. We want these reflections to contribute to the growing dialogue of #MeToo across theatre and performance in the UK, and make a number of recommendations for change in the cultural sector. Goode was not unique in his abuse of power. Our personal experiences of harm in working with Goode, and the ways in which he made his collaborators complicit, motivate our desire that such harm should not be replicated. We act in solidarity with many people who resist exploitation, abuse, sexism and sexual violence, and who seek safe working conditions for all.
The history we are writing is complex and full of unknowns. It is neither possible nor appropriate for any individual to tell the full story. Eschewing any singular narrative, four of us have instead written individual accounts of our experiences and understandings. We appreciate our different – at times contradictory – perspectives, and find them useful to comprehend how a culture of harm arose and was sustained for years.
Rather than forming any definite or final word, we see these texts as a beginning. The work of processing requires time; understandings continue to emerge as the many people connected to Goode’s work share experiences with each other. We hope these texts might encourage more sharing, such that the broader community can continue to develop a rounded picture of a complex situation. With an eye on safety within the unregulated space of what is otherwise a personal blog, we are closing the comments box, but this blog will remain a space to which anyone who would like to address this history can contribute, whenever it might feel like the right time for that to happen.
We would like to thank many people who have made this writing possible. We thank those who have co-organised with us over these years; the many individuals who have bravely entered into dialogue with us; those who have offered us care, support and guidance; those donors who enabled us to access counselling and conflict mediation; and the LGBT+ mental health charity ELOP.
We apologise that these texts are not immediately available in audio versions: this will be attended to as soon as possible.
In solidarity, and alongside and with others,
Lucy, Maddy, Paul, and Xavier
Please note: the following texts contain extensive discussion of coercion, manipulation, adult and child sexual abuse, and suicide. If you find these texts distressing, please know that you can reach out to these organisations for support. We are speaking here about the need to improve safeguarding, and ways to report abuse. If this is happening to you, or if you are worrying about someone else, please reach out for help. Get a friend to support you. Do it today.
Act on concerns, by Lucy Ellinson, performer with Signal to Noise, Chris Goode & Company, and independent works, 2005-2018
Silence is not an option, by Xavier de Sousa, Senior Producer at Chris Goode & Company, 2017
Accountability in process, by Maddy Costa, critical writer with Chris Goode & Company, 2011-2018
On working with, and after, Chris Goode by Paul Paschal, performer with Ponyboy Curtis 2015-2016
These texts sit alongside two articles, written by journalists Lyn Gardner for The Stage, and David Levesley for The Face.