Myles Hart – My Story
Like many people, I experienced bullying at work. However, my workplace isn’t your everyday office. In the theatre, the dynamic is very different in comparison to a normal office job.
During the rehearsal stages of a particular show I was working on, I become close with two other members of the cast. We would go for dinners, laugh, joke, confide in each other and do everything else that good friends do. Unfortunately, one day I noticed that there was a shift in our energy for no apparent reason. I was no longer being greeted at work, no longer being messaged, our group chat went dead and I couldn’t think of anything that could explain why. One thing I did know was that for the last few weeks of our friendship, I had been confiding in my friends about some difficulties from another show I was working on that was experiencing ups and downs. My friends were huge fans of this particular show and loved finding out the latest information.
One day, I went to speak to one of my friends and when I said I had an update, they responded saying they already knew, and they probably know more than I do and what’s more confusing – they can’t tell me. Now for weeks, I had been letting this person know things that I wasn’t really supposed to be saying, since we were close friends, I would always share with them. I felt confused.
“Why not? I’ve been telling you about this for weeks” I responded.
They turned and said, “I’ll tell you later…”
That was over 6 months ago, and that was the day everything changed. After this point, I would go to work and be ignored by those who were supposed to be my friends. During fiscal warm up where I once integrated with and spoke to everyone, I was now stood in-between a group of people who ignored me. They would even have conversations and make jokes straight through me.
“I was made to feel like I was invisible.”
One day I was off ‘sick’ as my voice was playing up and I was unable to sing. After going to the doctor, I was signed off work on the last day of the week. Upon my return, not only was the dynamic completely different with the friends I was once close to but the entire company. Since that day, I have people walk past me with no greeting, where I would once be hugged and greeted, people would walk straight past me. I was ignored in the wings during our performances and I would even be ignored on stage during shows. I was made to feel awkward whilst trying to do my job.
This is my dream job. As a performer, I have worked hard my entire life to get to this point in my career but now, I was no longer longing to get to the stage door and enter the theatre to live my dream. Instead, I was scared, uneasy and extremely anxious to the point where I felt sick. I was then told by people outside of my workplace that people were writing notes and leaving them on my desk. In dressing rooms, I saw texts being sent to other people in the room, talking badly about me. I would see my colleagues go out after the show and I was no longer included. It was hell…I was made to feel blatantly disliked, ostracised, excluded and lonely every single day I went to work. It got to the point I would break down, cry on the way to work and on my way home.
“Somehow, I had gone from enjoying my dream job, to feeling depressed at the thought of going in.”
Theatre work in intense and performers work six days per week, so I felt like there was no escape. I couldn’t speak to one person, not a colleague, not my manager or even the director. I felt completely alone, to the point I was not eating, I lost my voice and considered leaving altogether. When I lost my voice again, I decided I had to take serious action – my voice is my career. I had to confront the situation I had been enduring now for over five months. Luckily, I was able to overcome this by remembering why I was where I was; that I had earned my place, and I decided that I would not allow others to affect my joy.
Eventually, I built up the courage to speak to my manager who understood completely and arranged for the director to speak to me about the issue. The empathy and understanding I received from them both was overwhelming and completely unexpected. I was relieved to have at least one person believe in me and let me know this was not OK and should be dealt with. When I was going through this, I didn’t even see it as bullying, I had always associated bullying with school children. It was only when those in charge said that they will not tolerate bullying at all, that it truly sank in….I was being bullied.
I realised that bullying is not only something that happens on a playground. It took a long time to process all the horrible feelings that came with the bullying and my mental health took a serious hit. I battled with depression and the experience had a huge impact on my happiness.
Since discovering I was a victim of bullying, I want to do everything I can to bring attention to it and hopefully give people the courage to speak up about it. I was so lucky to have one cast member come up to me and say, “What’s happening isn’t right, I want you to know that.” Not everyone has that, and not everyone will speak up. I never understood why people said ‘make sure you tell someone if you’re being bullied’ because I had never realised how hard it actually would be to speak up…
“I didn’t tell anyone I was being bullied for months because I didn’t even realise I was being bullied.”
I want to help people to see that bullying is not just name calling but far deeper than that. I want to help people speak up and have the confidence to talk about it without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. This is my story.
Follow Myles on Twitter @myleshart
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