Performing at a NY PopsUp event Saturday, actor Amber Iman addressed the controversy surrounding one of the program’s producers, Scott Rudin, as well as general concerns around Broadway’s reopening.
“I think we as a collective know what we’re up against. We’ve read the emails. We went to the town halls. We’ve seen the articles and the cover stories,” Iman said on stage at the Broadway Theatre.
In front of an audience of Broadway actors, Iman made indirect reference to the recent Hollywood Reporter cover story in which Rudin’s former assistants detailed allegations of physical abuse and intimidation, as well as ongoing conversations in the industry around safety and equity. To address these issues, Iman said industry members need to work together and speak up, rather than revert back to silence.
“That was the past,” Iman said. “We’re never going back to it.”
The event, which was also broadcast live on Instagram, was the second NY PopsUp event in a Broadway theater and the first to occur since the Hollywood Reporter story was published. The 10 planned Broadway performances have been promoted as a means to shape safety protocols for Broadway’s return.
And, as a producer of NY PopUp, as well as the lead producer of Broadway shows including the upcoming “The Music Man,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “West Side Story,” which was hosted at the Broadway Theatre, Rudin has a large part to play in that return.
Following publication of the article, few members of the industry have spoken up about the article or spoken out against Rudin. Those who have, including Heidi Schreck, Patti Murin, Anthony Rapp, Karen Olivo and Telly Leung, have urged for a greater reckoning within the theater community.
“This is not a secret and the antics are widely known by all in the industry. Will there be any accountability for his actions? We. Shall. See,” Leung tweeted.
A spokesperson for Rudin did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
In addition to the public allegations against Rudin, industry members have been grappling with general uncertainty about returning to the workplace after the pandemic and questions on whether new racial equity policies will be enacted.
Iman is a co-founder of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, which has been hosting town halls on these subjects. On Saturday, she addressed these concerns — amid moments of musical levity and joy at being back in a theater — with calls for action and by pushing forward the idea of a unified theater community.
“When we get back, it’s going to take a collective sense of a community,” she said.