Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Death to Smooches.

In the Guardian, Mark Ravenhill writes that Wales has banned kissing from school plays. I think this is an excellent idea. I mean, what if the one child actor kissing the other child actor had been eating peanuts before?

Just kidding. This is friggin' ridiculous! Writes Ravenhill:
In a new directive - which, it's feared, might soon be applied in England, too - the Welsh assembly states that kissing in school productions should be replaced by "a peck on the cheek or an embrace", and that characters should "hug each other in friendship". If this were applied to [Ravenhill's young person's play] Citizenship, it would reduce the play to a nonsense. And how chilling the Welsh assembly's advice to teachers not to rely on "arguments about the artistic integrity of the text".
And now, Romeo and Juliet's first meeting as it would be in a Welsh high school production:
ROMEO: If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My arm, two swarthy pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a hug of friendship.

JULIET: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' bear hug.

ROMEO: Have not saints backs, and holy palmers arms to wrap round them in a non-sexual embrace?

JULIET: Ay, pilgrim, arms that they must use to whip their own backs in self-flagellation...
End scene! Okay, so I'm no Thomas Bowdler, but
you get the point. Romeo and Juliet without the kissing and the hot teenage sex = Homeo and Frigidette.

UPDATE:Okay, well I should have expected Mark Ravenhill's P.O.V. to be perhaps a little inyerface. A BBC article clarifies what the Welsh are going to squelch:
An assembly government spokesman said the guidelines would not ban kissing or give a set list of texts for students.

"The draft guidance does not ban kissing, but it does stress that the safety of children and young people must always take priority over the integrity of artistic work and that there should always be a clear rationale for the use of an explicit gesture or action, such as a kiss."
I suppose if the Welsh assembly must intervene in high school drama productions, this policy is more reasonable... And yet, I don't think my high school drama teacher's decision to make Borachio and Margaret have their role-playing sex on stage in Much Ado About Nothing had much of a clear rationale beyond titilating the adolescent audience. But I wouldn't take back that memory for nothing and would have been mightily peeved if that little bit of extra stage time for my bit part had been cut by an act of Parliament...

Whatever. The Welsh kids won't really care as long as they can continue to secure a parentless house with a well-stocked liquor cabinet for the cast party.

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