Actors’ Equity Association released a statement expressing deep concern over accusations made today by former Jagged Little Pill cast member Nora Schell about what the union described as “a truly painful experience that shouldn’t have happened.”
Earlier today, Schell, a Black non-binary actor who made their Broadway debut in the Jagged Little Pill chorus in 2019, posted a statement on social media describing repeated instances early in the run of the show in which they were “intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic.”
Schell, who is not returning to the Broadway production when it resumes performances on Oct. 21 following the pandemic shutdown, said they had been diagnosed by a gynecologist with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and that the news was either ignored or downplayed by a Jagged Little Pill stage manager and, later, members of the creative team.
In a later tweet, Schell said the unnamed stage manager was an Equity vice president.
In its response tonight, Equity said, “We are deeply concerned about the revelations in Nora Schell’s statement released today. We are looking into everything they brought forward. We recognize this was a truly painful experience that shouldn’t have happened. An actor who needs emergency surgery should never be prevented from taking medical leave, no matter where the show is in its life cycle. This is yet another example of why we need to end the ‘Show Must Go On’ mentality and prioritize the well-being of the people who make theatre.”
Deadline requested comment today from a spokesperson for the production, but has not yet received a response.
Schell was one of two previous cast members to speak out today about the production’s treatment of trans and non-binary people. The Tony-nominated Celia Rose Gooding, who recently landed the role of Uhura in the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds TV series and will not return to her role as Frankie in Jagged Little Pill when it reopens Oct. 21, said in a statement today that she “cannot ignore the harm Jagged has done to the trans and non-binary community, including cast members on stage, off stage, and behind the scenes in the production making process…I believe it will be in my best personal interest to focus more on work that I can align myself with emotionally and morally, just as Frankie would.”
The musical is nominated for 15 Tony Awards, more than any other production. In addition to the Best Musical nomination, six members of the cast, including Gooding, are up for awards this Sunday. Gooding confirmed that she will perform with the cast during the awards show, marking her final performance in the role.
The production, which features the songs of Morissette (co-written with Glen Ballard), direction by Diane Paulus and an original story by Diablo Cody, previously came under criticism for revising the character of Jo, played by Tony nominee Lauren Patten, from a non-binary character to a gay cis female character. Producers apologized for the revision last weekend and pledged to take steps to address both future casting procedures and cultivate an “equitable working culture.”
We are deeply concerned about the revelations in @noritachiquita's statement released today. We are looking into everything they brought forward. We recognize this was a truly painful experience that shouldn’t have happened. pic.twitter.com/uJB8jqygoe
— Actors' Equity (@ActorsEquity) September 24, 2021
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