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Ellie Schneider
13 years ago

Dear Justin,

Ellie Schneider here from 2ser Radio Sydney. I tried to get in touch with you earlier but if you get the chance could you please contact me at [email protected]. I work on a national media and communications program ‘The Fourth Estate’ and are looking to do a story on the classification of live theatre. I would love to have a bit of a chat.

Kind regards,


13 years ago

Justin, agree that theatre companies need to get better in advising schools (and the pubic in general) of the content of their shows. I think an official system like the gaming and filming industry would never be practical. Remember movies are in post production for months, sometimes years, giving the classificaton board heaps of time to do thier job.

Maybe thetare companies can agree on a set of their own ratings, more on a scaling system. For exampe

Course Language: low – med. – high. (a list of words may need to be listed)

Nudity: low – med – high (again a list of what nudity will be seen – full frontal)

What is the VCAA role in all of this? Last year there was a Theatre Studies with full frontal male nudity. I know they put out a generic warning, but is that enough.

And on the other side of the fence, what are we protecting our students from? They are watching much worse on TV and in fillm.

13 years ago

I agree that teachers have a duty of care to be responsible in the choice of show that their student’s to go and see. We are aware of the guidelines within our school system’s and should be choosing shows that expose student’s to theatre. This does not have to be shows with mature content.

I think we are the experts and therefore should make informed judgements about shows to see students and that is why I feel theatre classification is unnecessary.

I wrote a blog post in response to reading your earlier article.

Meg Upton
13 years ago

Contemporary theatre is often wild and random in its making and staging and this current generation of theatre makers are making it more so with each interpretation (although probably no more so than Jarry, Brecht, Brook, and Artaud in their beginnings). I don’t think we can rate theatre in the same way that film and television is because it is live and alive and subject to the very things that our students are studying – directorial, actual, dramaturgical. I think Brecht was perhaps like a Simon Stone of the 1930s – young, adventurous and ready to break open the theatrical landscape.
I agree about the duty of care we owe our students, I agree that detailed conversations with theatre companies are important, BUT these conversations plus the pre-performance setting are the ‘rating’ and are vitally important to the choices that educators make within the context of the school excursion.
I also wonder whether it is the adult sensitivity that is being tested when contemporary theatre is being held up to scrutiny. Something to think about.
In the end, good theatre delivers great stories. Acted well, they are about what it means to be human, rather like Medea, Hamlet, Richard III, Romeo & Juliet, Antigone, Macbeth etc which contain violence, abuse, suicide, matricide,, teenage love, familial dysfunction, psychological disturbance, murder, and other adult themes. Can’t go wrong there…