Jesse Williams‘ “Take Me Out” co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Second Stage Theater and the Actors’ Equity Association are condemning an audience member who recorded a video of the actor nude during a scene of the Broadway show and leaked it on social media.
The incident happened at Hayes Theater, which is owned by Second Stage Theater, who produces the “Take Me Out” revival. Despite the New York City venue’s policy that requires use of Yondr bags to lock up patrons’ phones, one person apparently snuck theirs in during production of the Tony Award-nominated show. On Monday night, videos and images of Williams began circulating online.
On Tuesday, Ferguson slammed the audience-goer for their “disrespect” to the cast and crew of the show.
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“I’m appalled by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage (every) night is crucial to ‘Take Me Out,’ ” Ferguson wrote on Twitter.
He continued, “Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theater which has always been a safe space for artists & audience members.”
The “Modern Family” star also noted that if nudity is the only reason people would attend the show, “you are in for a boring night.” He quipped that audience-goers would also have to sit through “big ideas, beautiful language and remarkable acting.”
I’m appalled by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage ever night is crucial to Take Me Out. Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theater which has always been a safe space for artists & audience members. https://t.co/eYEqbQBrc6
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (he/him/his) (@jessetyler) May 10, 2022
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Second Stage Theater released a similar statement Tuesday.
“It is deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production, their fellow audience members and, most importantly, the cast in this manner,” the statement said.
“Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have severe legal consequences. Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theatre community.”
The production company also revealed that they are working to have the video removed from various platforms and that they will have more staff circulating during the performances to ensure no further recordings are made.
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Actors’ Equity Association, a national labor union representing actors and stage managers involved in live theater, also shared a statement Tuesday calling it “both sexual harassment and an appealing breach of consent.”
The actor said that he endured questions from friends and family like, “Are you serious? Are you sure? Nude nude? Naked naked?” for nearly two years of COVID-19-related production delays before the play hit the stage.
“Everybody makes such a big deal,” Williams stated. “It’s a body. Once you see it you realize it’s whatever.”
USA TODAY has reached out to reps for Williams for comment.
Richard Greenberg’s “Take Me Out” revival is an exploration of what happens when a Major League Baseball superstar comes out as gay, tracing the way it unsettles the team and unleashes toxic prejudices.
“Take Me Out” won a Tony Award for best play during its initial run in 2003.
Williams may score the Broadway play another Tony in 2022. The former “Grey’s Anatomy” star received a Tony-nomination Monday for best performance by a featured actor in a play. He is up against his “Take Me Out” co-stars Ferguson and Michael Oberholtzer in the same category.
The Broadway show is also nominated for best revival of a play.
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