Under new gender-neutral guidelines, theater audiences in the UK will be liberated from utterly oppressive phrases like ‘ladies and gentlemen’. At the same time, Equity, a trade union for actors, has strongly advised against any appearance-based compliments directed at performers.
Proponents of the new policy argue that they’ll create a more equitable environment for LGBT performers and members of the audience who view themselves as neither male nor female, the Daily Mail reports.
LGBT activists contend that phrases like ‘ladies and gentlemen’, that have been used at theaters for decades, are inherently oppressive and exclude individuals like singer Sam Smith who identifies as ‘non-binary’.
The actor’s union is urging all theaters operating throughout the UK to introduce and uphold ‘gender-neutral terminology for collective calls, both front of house and backstage’.
Additionally, Equity’s set of new guidelines also advises against compliments performers on ‘appearance, clothing, voice, quality, identity or being brave’.
The National Theater in London has fallen into line, saying that although it was still using the phrase ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in some announcements, that it would it a priority to phase these phrases out.
The Royal Shakespeare Company has also followed suit, announcing that it would ‘strive to create environments which welcome and support trans people and people who identify their gender as fluid’.
Responding to the new gender-neutral guidelines, Nica Burns, the co-owner of Nimax Theater, said: “Coming to the theatre is a shared and communal experience in one single auditorium and we want to please our audience and give them a great evening. We wouldn’t want anyone to feel offended or annoyed.”
In October, London’s Old Vic theater – a theater that was originally established in 1818 – replaced male and female bathrooms with gender-neutral offerings instead.