On Saturday afternoon, 17 August,  STSD Conference Delegates met in the Globe’s Nancy Knowles Lecture Theatre ready for this seminar on Safeguarding and Inclusivity in Theatre.

A Panel, including representatives from Theatre Management, Practitioners, Actors, etc., were invited to discuss the contentious issues regarding what is acceptable practice at Audition, Rehearsal, in Performance and what is not.

Chairing the Panel was David Bellwood, Chairman of Deafinitely Theatre (empowering aurally-challenged Actors and Audiences through sign language). Panel members also present were Yarit (Dor), Fight Director and a member of Intimacy Directors International; Lawrence Carmichael, Fight Director and Meisner Practitioner; Two Globe Education Practitioners/Actors, Sarah and Helena. Equity was represented by Dr. Ian Manborde – not in person but through a very informative booklet, Agenda for Change Report and a recorded message forwarded later. This very detailed document has been produced after consultation within the whole Entertainment Industry. (Equity has 47,000 full members and 5,000 student members). It covers all aspects of nudity, intimacy, sexual harassment, prejudice, discrimination (whether on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation.)

The Panel discussed what is acceptable within the audition process eg. ‘at what point is the actor made aware of nudity/intimacy in the production’? Some of the Panel go into Drama Schools to make students aware of potential issues and to equip them to deal with any inappropriate behaviour.

After the initial discussion, questions were invited from the audience. The Panel was asked how has the ‘Me Too’ movement affected the industry in relation to casting processes and supporting young, disabled actors. The response was that changes are gradually taking place and being implemented, but there is still some way to go.

The discussion turned to the Festival Movement and the rules that now prevail with regard to Schools and student participation. Many of us feel that some draconian measures are leading to festival closures. A fact we teachers of Speech & Drama all deplore. It was even suggested ‘ perhaps the pendulum has swung too far, and is it still swinging…?’ is the current trend creating Dramatic Noise whilst stifling Creativity?

One of the Panel commented “libel will make it round the planet before the truth get its boots on”

The debate continues. There is no doubt however that this thought provoking Seminar gave us some valuable insight into this whole topic of Safeguarding and Inclusivity in Theatre.

Safe Audition Practice in the Age of Me Too by Cally Foster