The actor made the onstage kiss last longer and longer until the director told them to shorten it.
"He asked me if I agreed with the director that it was too long," the actress said.
"I did. I wanted it shortened.
"In the performance that night, instead of a long kiss, he grabbed my face and forcefully pushed his tongue far into my mouth."
This was one in a series of incidents of sexual harassment that took place while Anna was working in a professional theatre play on an Australian stage.
Behind the curtain
Backstage, in a small space in the dark, Anna waited for her cue with her face against the wall, her co-star standing behind her.
"By the final couple of weeks he was holding me by the hips and pushing himself up against me. I could feel the imprint of his penis."
Anna is one of several women who have come forward with stories about sexual harassment, bullying and sometimes assault in the Australian theatre after last month's allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
The female directors, performers and a stage manager all told their stories to the ABC anonymously.
The stage manager described how she was bullied in the rehearsal room by a male writer-director.
"A character that you might stereotype as skanky or slutty was given my name," she said.
"I had a huge fear that my speaking up and making a fuss was going to affect my ability to work in what is an incredibly small and competitive industry."
It was her first professional stage management job after years of working in not-for-profit independent theatre. She has now left the industry.
"While I wouldn't credit my career change to this rehearsal room alone, the experience certainly contributed to my loss of love for my job as a stage manager and for work in the theatre," she said.
One woman described being at a company party where a
director suggested two female artists he would be working with should "go down on each other".
Another described how she was manipulated and eventually sexually assaulted by the writer of the first play she directed out of drama school.
She told the male artistic director of the company.
"He said to me, 'I could see what was happening,' with this weird knowing, admonishing look and it has never left me," she said.
"I've always thought: 'If you knew, then why didn't you try to stop it?'"
The artistic director took no action against the director.
"The show had wrecked me. I couldn't even contemplate directing another show … in hindsight it's obvious that I was pretty traumatised."
She pulled out of her next directing engagement with the company, although she did eventually work in the industry again.
The women were encouraged to speak by a wave of revelations from actresses across the Pacific, beginning with allegations that Weinstein harassed and sometimes forced himself on numerous women over decades.
"The thing that we all know about performance work in this country and around the world is that it is freelance short-term projects, it's precarious work," said Zoe Angus, the national director of the performers' union, MEAA Actors Equity.
"We're talking about people who are in vulnerable work situations. I think there's been a culture of silence and shame around all of these practices and the result is that people don't speak.
"That culture is being busted wide open in the last couple of months.
"Now the ugly face has been made clear; you can't look away from this anymore — and public opinion has sided with those who have these experiences."
An actor's story
From the first week of rehearsal, Anna's co-star in the play told her he had feelings for her.
They were playing a husband and wife, roles that required them to be physically intimate onstage, a daily torture that culminated in that violent kiss.
Anna told him repeatedly she did not return his feelings and it was unprofessional for him to persevere. She complained to the show's female director for the first time during the second week of rehearsals.
"She asked if I wanted him to be reprimanded. I said no," she said.
"She suggested that she speak to him directly about it. I was scared for her to do so.
"I didn't trust that he would have a reasonable response. He had repeatedly ignored my requests to respect my professional boundaries. I thought a reprimand might provoke him further.
"So I asked the director to keep an eye on things and make sure she didn't set us any work to do privately out of the room. I didn't feel safe to work with him on my own."
The director agreed not to speak to him directly and informed the stage manager and another senior staff member working on the play.
Anna's co-star wrote her a long poem and gave it to her. He also sent her text messages.
"A week went by, and during that time we opened the show. Late on opening night I saw the senior staff member who had been informed of the situation drinking with my co-actor."
A couple of days later, Anna said she was called into the same staff member's office. "She began: 'I hear someone's got a bit of a crush on you!' She was smiling. I was shocked," Anna said.
"She was undermining the severity of the situation."
One afternoon, Anna was having a nap between shows backstage and woke to find her co-star staring at her. Nobody else was in the room.
She began having trouble sleeping and even breathing, and was crying for a large part of each day.
The show was about to go on tour and staff member who had joked about the "crush" said she wanted to sketch out a plan for how Anna could go on working with her co-star.
"I went home and came up with a plan for touring that I thought might keep me safe. I would ask to be in completely separate accommodation from him, and I would have a close friend or family member staying with me the whole time."
That was when it hit Anna.
"I realised that it had somehow been my problem to solve for the entire process … There appeared to be no protocols in place that propelled the company to take action. It was always up to me.
"I was put in a
very difficult situation. I not only had to put up with his behaviour, but I had to find a solution for it as well."
When the harassment from her co-star continued during the show's run, Anna left — something she never thought she would do.
"Up until that point, the idea of leaving a show at all was unthinkable … But the prolonged harassment, and the failure of the theatre company to take effective action to support and protect me, left me simply unable to continue," she said.
Anna was replaced by another female actor. The male actor stayed in the role.
"I asked the theatre company, via my agent, to tell my replacement actor why I had left," she said.
"I found out a few days later that they didn't."
'A long time to feel unsafe'
Actor Sacha Horler described Anna's story as an "appalling and shocking account".
Horler has had a two-decade career on screen and on stage, and when the Weinstein allegations emerged her first thought was that the Australian industry had left her relatively unscathed.
"Then I went, 'Oh hang on, I've normalised so much of this as part of my industry.'
"This last three months has really made us all take a long hard look at what we have even let ourselves think is acceptable."
Performers tread a fine line in the intimate world of theatre, Horler explained.
"There are a thousand actors that have fallen in love on screen, on stage, and ended up having love affairs and sexual encounters and then it's all fallen apart — we call it a 'showmance', it exists," she said.
"But there's a big difference between consenting adults choosing to fall in love in a rehearsal room and on stage, and being harassed sexually in a rehearsal room and during the production.
"When you do a play, it's four to six weeks of rehearsal plus three months of performance, maybe it's got a tour. This is a long time to feel unsafe."
A watershed moment
Preliminary results from a sexual harassment survey by MEAA Actors Equity are not pretty.
According to the survey, 40 to 60 per cent of Australian actors have experienced sexual harassment firsthand. 40 per cent of those reported the harassment to companies.
"Of those who report it, some 60 per cent say that there was either no response or an unsatisfactory response, and a further 30 per cent say that when they have reported that it worsened the situation," said Equity's Zoe Angus.
The data also revealed that companies either don't have policies to deal with sexual harassment claims, or if they do, the actors don't know about the safeguards.
"They're not readily accessible and not useful," Ms Angus said. Or as Horler put it: "If they have [policies] they're never spoken about — they're in paperwork back in the office."
The union will approach theatre companies to initiate policy changes when the final report is ready at the end of the year.
For some, the results will be surprising, but for many women and some men in the theatre, they will be all too familiar.
"I'm more than hopeful … I think this is a watershed moment for the industry," Ms Angus said.
Anna remains concerned about the theatre company's lack of effective action and wants to see change.
"The responsibility to decide on a course of action was given to me at every point. I simply couldn't take that responsibility, I was becoming paralysed by fear and discomfort," she said.
"What was clear was that no one knew what to do."
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