A prominent figure in the Canadian theatre world and the well-known company he co-founded are facing four separate lawsuits alleging sexual assault and harassment, a lawyer for the four actresses making the claims said Wednesday.
The lawsuits name Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company and its founding artistic director Albert Schultz, lawyer Alexi Wood said.
In a statement, Wood alleged Soulpepper did nothing to protect the women from Schultz, 54, who is also an accomplished stage and screen actor.
“Mr. Schultz abused his power for years,” Wood said. “My clients fully intend to hold him and Soulpepper Theatre Company accountable. Their brave lawsuit is the first step towards righting this incredible wrong.”
The women have scheduled a news conference for Thursday, Wood said.
None of the allegations has been proven in court and neither Soulpepper nor representatives for Schultz responded to a request for comment.
Soulpepper bills itself as Toronto’s largest not-for-profit theatre company and Schultz has played a key role in its repertoire. The company also provides training for aspiring actors and theatre artists.
Schultz is also an executive director on the hit CBC television series “Kim’s Convenience,” which is independently produced for the public broadcaster by Vancouver-based Thunderbird Productions.
“In light of the serious allegations made public today, we expect Thunderbird will take the necessary actions to ensure a safe and respectful workplace and we have conveyed that to them,” said Emma Bedard, a spokeswoman for CBC.
Thunderbird had no immediate response but a spokeswoman said the company was preparing a statement.
The latest allegations against Schultz and Soulpepper come after the theatre company revealed in October that it had severed ties with longtime guest artist Laszlo Marton, who it said had engaged in sexual harassment.
As the founding artistic director of Soulpepper in 1998, Schultz has been widely recognized for his work, including being honoured with an Order of Canada in 2013 and a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2014.
His many credits include a starring role in the comic trilogy “The Norman Conquests.”
“Thinking about the collective and creating opportunities for others as much as for yourself is, I think, much more rewarding in the long run,” he once said.
His Order of Canada investment acknowledges his creative spirit and contributions to Soulpepper and his “commitment to training generations of theatre artists.”
Schultz established a partnership with George Brown College to set up the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. His other acting credits include a role on an earlier hit TV series, “Street Legal.” More recently, he appeared on the miniseries “Alias Grace.”
Born in Port Hope, Ont., Schultz was drawn to acting by his mother’s community theatre work. He attended York University’s theatre program and then the London Academy