Singer Ketevan Chuntishvili during rehearsals for RAPE & CULTURE – Photo: Max Ott


“Take your fins off!”

For our production RAPE & CULTURE, we asked artists to tell us about their experiences with sexualized violence and abuse of power. This is Bettina, who actually has a different name

Tom Wilmersdörffer
– Editor:
Philipp Nowotny

The incident happened five years ago. I was 27 and did a stand-in at an independent theater. Right in the middle of the scenic rehearsals. Everyone else was much older, including my playing partner. You’re new, you’ve just finished your studies and you’re a bit shy anyway. As a young woman, you don’t come straight out and say: that’s the way it goes. You hold back a little and sound out the situation.

In the final scene that we rehearsed, both couples were on stage. The man had to kneel in front of me, touch me on my stomach and breasts and, let me say, touch me in a very sexual way.

I have no problem with physical touch in the game. Everything that happens in the scenic work is completely ok for me. I can separate that very well. But as soon as the direction stops, it’s clear to me: now we’re private. Now your hands have no place there, and neither do inappropriate looks and comments.

We played, sang, then the scene was interrupted – and he just carried on. Then I said: Wait, stop, we’ve just broken, there’s a scenic announcement. That was smiled at a bit. You know the cliché. The older man who thinks to himself: Young thing, haha, I’ll show you how it’s done.

We rehearsed the same scene again. We had to do the same thing again and it was interrupted again. Then came his lecherous looks. He knelt in front of me, my chest practically in his face, and he moaned “Oooh”. He looked at me in a disparagingly lewd way and grabbed my breasts. I said: That’s enough now, please stop, it’s not a scene right now.

But you don’t want to do him any harm. Maybe it’s just a joke. If I speak up now, he might say: God, you’ve got it all wrong. You also don’t want to be seen by the whole ensemble as someone who makes a big fuss about everything. You want to show that you can work professionally and are resilient.

But it went on in the same way in the third run – and then I screamed really loudly: Stop it now! Enough is enough! Take your fins away!

Everyone noticed that. I’m sure they were aware of the situation beforehand, the other couple and the director. But nobody said anything. You have to imagine that: I shout at him loudly. The conductor hears it, the orchestra hears it, the costume people hear it at the very back – and they just carry on rehearsing.

My play partner then stopped doing it and it was never brought up again. He hasn’t spoken to me privately since then. It was all very chilly on stage, and no more words were exchanged backstage.

Sure, I would have liked him to have realized earlier that it wouldn’t work, or not to have tried it in the first place. Then I would have liked him to at least realize: Okay, that really sucked. That he has the balls in his pants and says: Sorry, that wasn’t good of me.

I would have liked the management, i.e. the conductor or the director, to have said: Wait, what’s going on here? That’s not possible! Because they are neutral persons. They are in a position where they have to make sure that nothing like this happens in the ensemble. And who, if something happens, have to look: How do we sort it out?

If you are acutely affected by violence, please contact a contact point. Possible points of contact:

Available nationwide, around the clock:

Violence against women helpline
: 08000 116 016

Telephone counseling
0800 11 10 111 or 0800 11 10 222

Regional in Munich:

Crisis service Bavaria
: 0180 655 3000

Women’s helpline Munich
(Mon-Fri 10 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 2 pm, except Wednesday: 10 am – 1 pm and 6 pm – 2 pm): 089 76 37 37

Wildwasser München e.V.
(Mon 10am-12pm, Wed 4pm-6pm, Thurs 2pm-4pm): 089-600 39 331

Themis Confidence Center against sexual harassment and violence
in the film, television and theater industry (Mon 10am-12pm, Wed & Thurs 10am-12pm and 3pm-5pm): 030/23 63 20 20