Solo performance arts such as Storytelling and Stand-Up rely on feedback and collaboration in class. Improv is a collaborative art form, and the best improv happens when everybody involved feels comfortable, supported, and welcomed. At Merlin Works, we practice this every day by making our classrooms a safe environment that’s free from harassment, discrimination, and bigotry. People of any age, race, ability, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation are welcome in our classrooms and our performances. At Merlin Works, we want everyone involved in our classes and workshops to feel comfortable, supported, and welcomed. It is how we learn best.
Our School is not the typical workplace environment. The work that we do can sometimes address adult themes and engage “PG-13 rated” material. The atmosphere of the School and the larger community encourages social interactions and professional collaborations. While this may require a more nuanced reading of social cues than the more clearly defined office environment, it is the hope of Merlin Works that with a combination of communication, respect, and empathy, our community environment prioritizes safety.
All Merlin Works students and instructors need to abide by these six guidelines:
- Classes should be Fun for Everyone. Strive to be fun to play with, and make choices that include the group. Be aware when you’ve excluded someone, acknowledge it, and learn from it.
- Respect physical boundaries. We all just met each other, and people have different needs for personal space. If it needs permission in real life, it needs permission in class.
- When you play a character that’s different from you, play them with smarts, respect, and depth. Cultures and identities aren’t jokes. Even if it gets a laugh, it’s what we call a “cheap laugh.” We can do better. Use modern language instead of outdated or offensive terms: these keep changing and we keep learning!
- Help to support female-identifying players and prioritize their comfort. Make an extra effort to avoid belittling women, even if you’re “in character.”
- Don’t demean or make a joke out of any gender identity or sexual orientation. Anyone can play any character, if done respectfully. Men and women can play women, or men, or pirates or robots or boxes of cereal.
- Be personally respectful. Don’t make repeated unwanted sexual advances toward another student or instructor. Make it a goal to avoid making others uncomfortable.
- These guidelines apply both inside and outside of class, and also apply to online interactions. Thank you for helping us sustain a safe, inclusive, and respectful learning community.
Our instructors will do their very best to steer you in a positive direction. If you make a mistake, that means you have the chance to get better! It’s why we’re in class to begin with.
If you feel like another student is violating these guidelines, or if you feel uncomfortable for any other reason, let your instructor know. If you encounter unwanted behavior at Merlin Works you can talk directly to the offending person, talk to your teacher, reach out to the dean, or fill out this anonymous form. If you feel like your instructor is violating these guidelines, notify Paul Normandin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Shana Merlin (email@example.com). We’ll review any reports immediately, and your complaint will be kept absolutely private.
Thanks for taking the time to read this! It’s extremely important to us. Let us know if you have questions or concerns about this policy. We have asked all our students, staff, and faculty to read and agree to this policy before participating in any of our events.
(This document and associated policy are adapted from HUGE and Arcade Theaters’ and The Region IV Public Health Training Center with gratitude.)