Edmonton theatre troupe cuts ties with former artistic director over 'rape culture' confession

An Edmonton theatre company is disavowing its former executive director, describing the acclaimed actor and playwright as an “identified predator.”

'I have acted as though women were objects, to be won, to be obtained, to be used,' wrote Chris Craddock

Rapid Fire Theatre has severed ties with Chris Craddock, an established Edmonton actor and playwright. (Chris Craddock)

An Edmonton theatre company is cutting ties with its former artistic director after the acclaimed actor and playwright said on Facebook he has contributed to "rape culture."

Rapid Fire Theatre, a local improv troupe, issued a public statement on Wednesday announcing that Chris Craddock will no longer be affiliated with the company.

Rapid Fire's move comes after Craddock posted a confession on his personal Facebook page about the way he has treated women.

Craddock served as Rapid Fire's artistic director from 2004 to 2008 but had continued to work alongside the troupe as an actor, director, producer and playwright, largely during the annual Edmonton Fringe Festival. Craddock is a mainstay of Edmonton's theatre and film industry, with more than 30 years of credits to his name.

In the statement, Rapid Fire management indicated that Craddock had "publicly admitted to unacceptable behaviour" in violation of the company's own zero-tolerance harassment policy.

The ongoing scandal surrounding sexual violence and abuse of power in the entertainment industry — triggered by reports about film producer Harvey Weinstein — provoked the theatre company to cut ties, the statement suggests.

'Enough is enough'

"This week so many people around the world have engaged in a large conversation of sexual harassment and abuse; much of that conversation focusing on issues of sexual harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry.

"The improv industry has its fair share of predators and we know that at times in Rapid Fire Theatre's 37-year history we have featured some of those individuals in our performing ensemble. Enough is enough."

The statement said Craddock "has publicly admitted to unacceptable behaviour in violation of our own harassment policy."

The statement was signed by current artistic director Matt Schuurman, general manager Karen Brown Fournell and president Amir Reshef.

Craddock's admission has since been removed from his Facebook page. It was written in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the ensuing #MeToo social campaign.

'So much to make up for'

"I have touched without permission. I have acted like 'no means no' is enough, and behaved as though everything before a 'no' is OK," Craddock wrote.

"I have acted as though women were objects, to be won, to be obtained, to be used."

In the post, Craddock blamed much of his behaviour on alcoholism and a cocaine addiction.Getting sober four months ago has given him new clarity on his wrongdoings, he said.

"[T]he clear lens of sobriety has opened my memory to the realities of my actions, micro-actions and things more overt, and I have so much to make up for."

'Mistakes were made'

Schuurman said there had been rumours swirling around Craddock for some time, and there were previous allegations against him. 

"It has come to my knowledge that when he was in a position of power within our organization that similar complaints and accusations had come forward in the past within in our organization," Schuurman said in an interview Friday. 

"At the time, those complaints were handled from within the organization. They were handled quietly, but they were not handled as well as they could have been.

"Mistakes were made in the past and we are taking responsibility for those missteps." 

Schuurman declined to comment on the nature of the complaints made against Craddock in the past, citing a concern for the victims, but said there were numerous allegations. 

Rumours circulating

"We were aware of rumours circulating involving recent events at other organizations, and we were investigating those, but due to the public nature of his post, it escalated our timeline."

Rapid Fire Theatre is reviewing its harassment policy and asking for feedback on how to maintain "safe, creative spaces" for performers, said Schuurman.

"We recognize that we're one of the first companies to come forward and address this behaviour publicly, and take accountability for these actions, but by no means do we think we're experts in this field.

"How we handle these cases, should they come up in the future, is an ongoing conversation." 

Craddock is the co-creator the television series Tiny Plastic Men. He is also the writer and director of It's Not My Fault and I Don't Care Anyway starring Alan Thicke and Quentin Aaron.

Since graduating with a BFA in acting from the University of Alberta in 1996, he has won national and international acclaim for his work.

In 2000, he was presented with the City of Edmonton Enbridge Award for Emerging Artist. He is also the recipient of the Centennial Medal of Alberta for his contribution to the arts.

In 2010 he was writer-in-residence at the Edmonton Public Library, and in 2012, playwright-in-residence at Theatre Network.

Craddock has not responded to requests for comment from CBC News.

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon


Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca