Friday, February 17, 2006

Bowdlerizing Shakespeare And Company All Over Again

It seems likely that high school drama in Britain is about to take a conservative turn:
Teachers have raised fears that plays such as Romeo and Juliet could be robbed of their meaning after draft new guidelines said pupils should not act out love scenes in schools.

A peck on the cheek is as far as most portrayals of love should go in order to protect youngsters from abuse, according to the guidelines, reported in the Times Educational Supplement.

Teachers should also weigh the impact of strong language and consider banning it from lessons and plays if this is in the best interest of pupils.

The guidelines, which have been launched for consultation in Wales and could be considered for England, said there is no role for "nudity or intimate physical contact" in school productions.

Margaret Higgins, of the National Association for the Teaching of Drama, told the TES: "You can't just cut out scenes like the kiss in Romeo and Juliet.

"It is a crucial moment. If this isn't fit subject matter for children, perhaps they should put on EastEnders after the watershed."

The draft guidance said: "Drama teachers need to consider carefully what gestures and movements are appropriate to communicate the emotion or idea required in the play or improvisation and what gestures and movements are acceptable.

"For example, many learners are uncomfortable with kissing in performance because of the physical intimacy that it entails, whatever the motivation of the characters or genre of the performance.

"In most cases, a peck on the cheek or an embrace can communicate the required emotion.

"These gestures show affection in an acceptable and obvious way."
There's more to read in the whole piece.

I'm surprised at this turn of events. I'm not sure that I'm prepared to understand why the Land of Shakespeare would find it necessary to censor him in their state-run schools.

I wonder what our transatlantic cousins would have thought of Amherst High School's performance of The Vagina Monologues back in 2004?
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