7: Policing Performance
You. You. Welcome. All to this session of, censorship and information, control during information. Revolutions, this, week we are looking at censorship, of theater, which. Might. Be counterintuitive, to be a question for Internet information, revolution since. If you think about it in one sense theater. Is an information, technology that has not changed since. Europe, at ease you, have a bunch of people in front of a bunch of other people doing, a thing but. Nonetheless theater. Has been profoundly, affected, by the arrival, of different, technologies, which. Have intersected. With it in different ways and we will look at that and its censorship history, today I'll ask my, fellow, guests, to introduce. Themselves starting at the far end with Bryce if you'll introduce yourself briefly I'm. Bryce Stratford. I run the owl scream theater company and we. Are, specialists. The only performers, actually of drawls. An illegal form of theater from, the, British interregnum. Between. 1642. And. 1674. I think. I'm. Steve Nicholson, from, Sheffield. University in. The UK I, teach. In a theatre, section. Of a school of English I've done a lot of, research. Into him writing about theatre. Censorship, in Britain. Under. The. Lord Chamberlain, who was in charge of it for 230, years, particularly. 20th. Century, theatre censorship. I'm. Corey doctor I'm one of the hosts of the seminar I write science fiction novels, and I work for an international NGO. Called, Electronic, Frontier Foundation, and I'm, visiting, computer, science professor at the Open University and, assisting library professor, at University, North Carolina. My, name is elsa fennan Henry, I'm a speculative, fiction writer and editor and my. Academic background is, in research, on burlesque and obscenity, law I have done work with the burlesque Hall of Fame where I've conducted oral, history interviews, with women who performed burlesque in the 1950s. 60s and 70s and. Have. Written a lot, of scholarship, on disability, in the media. I'm. Adrian, John's I'm one of the co-organizers, with, fader and Corey which. Is to say that I follow along in ages wait. I. Do, the. History. Of science, early modern Britain, and history, of the book and I occasionally go to the theater. And. I made a Fullmer and I work on the history of censorship, a radical, thought and the movement of radical, thought in through modernity, especially, the Renaissance but also the Enlightenment, and I also as frequently, as I can, make it happen go to the theater I, thought. We could plunge in today possibly, with Steven. Talking to us a little bit about his observations. About the effect of the arrival, of television, on the way.
Theater. Was censored, before, the, rise of television and during the rise of television and that that might give, us a good kickoff to plunge into the various experiences. We've had looking, at multiple. Centuries of theater censorship. Okay. So. Maybe. I just start with something, that an MP. Member. Of Parliament said, in in. 1900. In Britain, when he was calling for more strict. Censorship, he. Said young. People today for. Most of their ideas, from, what they see in the theatre it's, obviously that's a pre television, age pretty, radio, so, apart from press, theatre, he, said was, was, where people got their ideas from and that's, why he was very keen, essentially. Actually, to get tougher, than. It was and why for example they, were banning. Plays. Like Oedipus, because, of the theme of incest, in. The universe by. 1968. Which is when that system of censorship. Is is. A bit abolished. Nobody. Could possibly have, said that, young people, or any people were getting most of their ideas from the theatre, so. In a sense, although. That was never voiced as the reason given, as the reason why theater. Censorship, was, no longer necessary, in the same way I think, that's absolutely. Subtext. The, Lord Chamberlain, who. Was in charge of centric theatres had absolutely, no control. Of, television, or radio not. Everybody knew that people, sometimes wrote him complaining, about things that have been on radio. And television and. He became increasingly embarrassed. By the fact that things. Were being. Presented. Performed, on television or on radio, that, he had banned from. Being in in the theatre. What, one, example would be. Played. By jean-paul sartre called we, close no exit. Which. He'd banned because of, lesbian. Character. In it they, broadcasted, on on the radio and when he was asked, why. He'd why. He wouldn't allow it on the stage he said well you can't tell on the radio that she's a lesbian. So. Really. His. His. Censorship, was being completely, undermined, by the existence. Of television. Radio he was being made to look more and more ridiculous. Of what he what, he was turning down said. Okay for. Anyone. Want to chime, in on things that that makes you think about or reminds you of in terms of theater, moving, from being a centerpiece, of popular culture to serving a particular slice, of popular. Consumption. Yeah. I think it's, interesting the point of which essentially, theater stops mattering much. As we might. Have you like I might, say all the fight. Against that it's true theater is not the popular, form and hasn't been since, before 1968. Which is of course why it took that long to change things. Always. Being one step behind I think the thing about theater, that specifically. What theater is is. That it's a mob it's a group of people it's whipping, up a frenzy.
Which. Is what makes it dangerous and, and. Now I think it's the audience is by definition all in one place yes, exactly to kill people it's a to a meeting I think. It's a I think, it's interesting that. Part. Of the reason that theater, is so, much less dangerous and matters so much less is because people are far. More self. Contains now and far more self-absorbed and the way that people interact, with, art is far more individualistic, and far, less undefined. By the group. With. With the advent of technologies, and just the increase in individual. Education, that. All of that is so the thing to change things. Alongside entertainment. Technology, it. Would certainly be hard to point at any. Audience. Of a theater today and say that that audience is a coherent community. Absolute, that, would form or see each other again in other contexts. You know certainly if I'm imagined in theaters that we go to downtown, or the people who are going to the Globe Theater in London who, are seeing plays whereas when they originally performed you would go over and over and over and you would know the other people who, went and it formed a kind of community, which I think some kinds, of theatres still have that's, actually, what I was about to say the burlesque community, is actually quite. Well-connected. And there. Are certain performances, like the pink door in Seattle Washington where. There are regulars, who have been going to the Saturday night cabaret I'm, the pink door for, at this point thirteen years and, so, you show up and you see the people who have been going for years I show up half, of the performers, know me because they've known me for 10 years that's. Like oh you're back in town it's really nice to see you so, there is a communal, aspect but, I think part of that is because burlesque, is ever a somewhat. Underground, or community.
Performed. Type. Of theater you're, seeing people come together to create, conventions. Around the education, of burlesque performers, that's a completely community, built convention, called Burley con so, it does it. Doesn't have a community, structure, that I think we've lost in some ways in other forms because the audience and, the participants, do know each other and they communicate yeah, that, does still that you do still get that and not. Obviously. You do get with that with them fringe theatre which is in England which is the sort, of the equivalent of off-off-broadway. You've. Got a lot of the same people know each other and, as. A consequence, you kind of end up with the the echo chamber thing, the stuff. It's being discussed. And interrogated, it's, not changing anyone's minds or opinions. One. Of the few examples say today, of their still being some kind of a community. Aspect to a mainstream theater, which is not defined by a small, subgroup is, in stratford-on-avon. Vocals. And staffer and even really do care about the RSC, and are proud of the RSC and they will go back again and again and again and they will see individual. Actors careers rise and fall and they'll have their favorites, it's the only place that I'm from with Birmingham, rep there was a similar thing and but that. Was more in the 80s I think sitting more recent acclaim the only, one I'm aware of in, Britain I think is the, RSC, and stressful and even there's. A. Phenomenal. Night and I'm speaking, kind of a second. Hand about this because I'm not an expert on it but, as. I understand it in the 18th and 19th centuries. With. Some of the big, cities, in cities like Vienna, or Paris you. Have layers. Of audience, these. Like sometimes physical layers in the sense of you know the. Stools and the balcony and then the second balcony and box is kind, of thing maps, onto the architecture, of the theatre itself, and. In. Certain, forms of theatre and especially its. Most interest in opera you. Have a form of almost sensitive, that's exercised, by the audience, in the sense that they, would form into clacks and if. It's. Thought that a particular composer is to be disliked, then, they, will hiss the performance off the stage you. Know or you know boo and clap and all this kind of thing, and their arrival clacks that, will go in a room with like gangs and, and. You know favor, or disfavor particular. Singers. Or particular performers, or particular tunes, this kind of thing.
And. It's a it's a quite. Complicated, phenomenon, as far as I know I've, never, actually I think there's something that almost, is, like the residue, of that with. Operates at La Scala still. Like. There anyplace it's interesting that you bring up sort of 19th, century audience, culture, because in the United States we had what's called the Astor Place riot which. Was a riot that was caused by Shakespeare, performances. There. Was an actor I'm forgetting. His names we did their names oh did he look them up there on Wikipedia. Even but. There was one actor who, it. Was preferred by the nativist, movement. People. Who wanted, it to be American, and they claimed Shakespeare. For America. And then there was a British Shakespeare. Actor, what, happened was is that the American. People decided. To go and destroy the other performance. And there was a riot and people, actually died, a, theater, burned down. So. Shakespeare. Caused, a riot New York City in the eighteen hundreds. Certainly. In the nineteen. Forties and fifties in, in London there was something. Called the first night as club where. Group, of people would go along to the first night and they would literally. Howl it down and boo it if they didn't like it I think you sometimes, will, recently hear if it happened again opera don't you have been few examples, recently of. Operas, in Germany I think where an, audience, hasn't liked, an, interpretation, that the director, was, putting. On it perhaps, particularly, in terms of sex and explicitness, I don't. Think it happens so. Directly, but, it was there certainly. Through the forties and fifties. Yeah. Into, the 30s there was Orson, Welles and voodoo Macbeth which which, which caused. A huge flaw I think the, first mainstream African, American interpretation. Of theater in, America mainstream. Obviously. Yeah. One. Of the reasons I'm a little hesitant about bringing this up when talking about 19th, century opera and things is that I feel, that it's, it's. Become, sort, of a received myth, to do with the romantic composer but. Because it becomes one of these things where every. Composer has. A moment, when they have disastrous, performance and it. It, fits, with the romantic ideal of struggling, and being heroically, victorious, in the end that, you have to rise above this, this moment, when you are unjustly, persecuted by, the clap. Sibelius. Has, this with with benvenuto, cellini he says the memoirs, as a description where they, put on two Avenue to Shalini and again his story it's, all a plot that this, sort of rival, conductor, doesn't like Berlioz so, he's organized, the clack in the Opera House and he says something like they, applauded, the overture and the rest of it was roundly hissed and, within a week at it closed and god it's never become part of the repertory since then and, it's it's, a little too. Neat. As. Part of the story of the persecuted, artists I think I'm. Interested, from the historians, and hearing about how. The industrialization. Of parts of theater proceeded, I know with music that, the advent of sheet music bifurcated. Musicians, and two composers, who had an industrial practice, because there's a printing press that made their product that could then be sold on without them being present and performers. Who were, in that moment, you. Know gradually, believed. By the composers to be just mirror instruction, followers right, they wrote the recipe the performers, followed, the recipe and this, was you know largely, innocuous, until phonograms. Came along and you had these performers, these jumped up instruction followers who, started selling, the composer's, compositions, by performing, them and recording them and you, had you know John, Philip Sousa going to Congress and saying if the infernal talking machines are allowed to continue we will lose our voice boxes, as we lost our tails when we came down out of the trees and. And. And it you know created this this huge split which like, today you, know it we it's, still a bit weird right when you think about the idea that we have these exclusive, rights that are considered, you know the received wisdom is that are the exclusive right to, control the creative use of your work is just kind of a naturally, arising right and yet no, one would say that you shouldn't be allowed to perform a cover and.
In Fact what we do is we just have these collecting, societies, that convert. The moral right to decide who can perform your work into an economic right, I know, it's a little different with stage obviously you have to explicitly, license, to perform, but is. There. A moment where playwrights, and players. Split. Because of their industrial relations. But. With the publication, of plays and we talked about this a little bit yesterday and that I was trying to think on it but because, play. Non. Performed. Plays in, the, Middle Ages plays. Inherited, from antiquity Terrence, flautists. Are read, without, any staging, as high, literature, throughout. This manuscript period. In in. The Middle Ages and then when you move into the Renaissance and you're getting Renaissance, theater a lot of that is born, revival. Performances. Of flautists. That, people, interested, in the classics, are putting on and. Commedia, dell'arte then, springs, up largely in response to that saying actually that had, some funny bits which were great let's do the funny bits without the long tedious latin speeches part of. Terence. And, then you have a rival tradition, in the Middle Ages of of non-textual. Theatre performances, so mummers plays and, so on where there isn't a written version. But. It means that there is this long tradition of a written version of play circulating. Being reproduced, and spread around having nothing to do with performance. I'm. Not, I'm not sure that playwrights. And, performers. Are were. Ever fundamentally. Twined. By a necessity in quite the same way a, composer. Has to be able to play their instrument, a writer doesn't have to be an actor those some of the best art were Shakespeare, and Johnson saw and it was never a prerequisite. And and, often, there'd. Be quite a divergence, between the, maybe. The academically, inclined writers, will be distanced from the performances, sometimes, and they performers. Themselves. Certainly. I think when when performers, become industrialized themselves. Or when they start being recorded and performances. Are spread over the screen writers. Step, stock Falls pretty, precipitously. The joke you know so stupid they had sex with the writer, you. Know. It. Really, emerges, from that moment as the writers star Falls and the performer, star rises yes it doesn't ask to be the recorded. Because. Prior to that the only actors. It only a minority of actors, when, without. Recorded, performance can become choked, names yeah without industrial, yeah without industrial, distribution schemes the, theme, of a. Creator. Is limited to the number of people who can physically be co-present, with them or, view. A manually. Produced. Instance. Of their work. In. Fact yet and every sorry in, every in. Everyday, populist, forms, today. Generally. Speaking writers. Are a far. Lower stock than. Performance. It's. A standard, thing in soap operas and so on that the their act is claimed to write their own lines and and the, the powerless, pact writers, can't, do anything about it I think. Also when it comes to burlesque much of burlesque has actually been benefited, by the fact that you could get your hands on things because, it's. Often a reaction, to something that's been written before so. You, it's, many many times over burlesque will be a parody, of something that's kind of what it means so, somebody. Will say, take a play that's been done by somebody else had. Sexytimes. To it and then put it on stage to titillate the audience that's, how you make a burlesque more interesting, to your audience, so, there have been four less the first burlesque in the United States was called Ixion which is a Greek play and, if. The reason why they put it on was because it was an all-female production which, is why it was a burlesque, because. They were flipping it and creating. This, sexualized. Version. So. I think in many ways the industrialization. Actually helped for less to become an art form.
Because. We had more access to things. One. Of the, one. Once the system of censorship in Britain, was introduced, in 1737. One of the requirements, was that, you had to submit a complete, script. Originally. 14, days before the performance and it came. Seven days and the. Actors were not at, least, in theory allowed to modify that, text, at, all. So. No improvisation. Was, permissible. On the, stage there's, a point in. 1950s. Were quite an enterprising, director, wants. To stage. Some commedia, dell'arte, the. Traditional, Italian comedy, that was, depended. Largely on improvisation, and the. Lord Chamberlain, is. Actually quite sympathetic, but it says there's nothing I can do I can't allow this because the law requires. That you. Submit the, complete script and you don't change anything now whether. That always. Happened, I'm I'm, very doubtful. We. Know of examples I know of examples where actors certainly did. There. Was no effective. Policing system, to, make sure that they never, did and even. If a line have been in cut, you. Know the actor could always say it and can always say oh I didn't mean to say it sorry I learned. It. Things. Like that where you could get around, and. It's interesting because the Lord Chamberlain, also did police burlesque theaters in London, the. Windmill visits. By, the Lord Chamberlain's, office and, if. You move the single inch because you could stand still, and be naked but you couldn't move, if. You moved an inch then, you got into trouble there's. The famous case of the rat appearing on stage and, the new jumping. Off and screaming and the whole theatre getting, shut down because she's mourned but. Some some of the Lord Chamberlain's, staff were were, regular, attenders, of the windmill. Tipped. Off when they were coming and made sure certain. Things didn't happen and there's, also I. Have to say I have never seen so, many photographs, of nude women as I've seen in the Lord Chamberlain's, files, I guess he, had to approve every. Single pose, and he used to sign his, name across, the thighs usually. Literal. Circles, on these pictures sometimes like no this is unacceptable and it, was a known device, that they, sometimes wore costumes. That. Would slip off them and. They could apologize and say oh that wasn't supposed, to happen but it was. Deliberate. Slips of costume, have been used in, the burlesque community, for generations, of. Performers as, a. Reason to not get arrested your, American might slip or your bra strap might fall off just so or, maybe that bra hinge just doesn't, work today. It's. Also but remember the term actors. Don't do what they're supposed to to the, time regardless whether it's planned or they're the producer, has any control over it or intention their other time if the act is gonna get a laugh they'll do it no matter how many times they're told not to and. That, that's that's always been like. Once. You say that that this. This. Is, lorry, a little burlesque but the. In. The, the history of like the printed, versions. Of place. There's a very, standard. Well-known thing about the, period sort of Shakespeare Johnson, through. The through the mid 17th century where. The, first versions of Shakespeare plays are often quite different from oh yeah. To. Be or not to be I there's the point. At. Least a century of. Academic. Agonizing, about, what these weird, versions, of Shakespeare plays are you. Know are they something like, as. It were pirated, versions which somebody went down written down shorthand are they, prompts. As scripts. Are they the actual scripts, that people used is this actually what people said and there, are various technical arguments going back and forth but, this is to get back to something that Cori was asking about the there's.
A There's, a sort of standard story that that you start getting as, it. Were a definitive, stage. Printed. Play. Texts, with, Ben Jonson and Shakespeare, in the 1620s it's, the first Shakespeare folio and the Ben Jonson, works, which. Is actually an interesting term for it he's thought to be the first person who. Announces. That he has such a thing as works. And. After that that. Sort of sets a a, quantum. Change but, after, that you can have a sort, of neoclassical. As it were representation. Of a, modern playwright, as an, author of texts that are properly, printed, laid out in certain ways with, organized entrances, and exits and you. Know stage directions and things like that it is worth it, is worth bearing, in mind as well with that is certainly, where the Jonson Foley was concerned those. While they were based on the play text those were not written or published, to be performed, those, were published to be read and were edited, heavily. By Johnson specifically. For a reader in mind rather than an, audience. The. Degree to which that's true of the the Shakespeare folio is is, up for debate but but. The, the history of of, chamber drama is another. Thing and the, very notion of bone of an. Authorial. Version, in theatres certainly, throughout the renaissance and earlier is is something that that's quite unlike the same play today the idea of their big this is what this play is this is Hamlet I mean there's there's multiple, Hamlet's and there would only have been more Hamlet's and the. Notion of what Hamlet is was, so much more than just what this script is the script is the script and the. Production, is its is something else entirely it's a collaboration, between the actors, and the, script and, whoever else is involved in whichever, thing which, makes it so much harder to police and to control you can control, this play text but that is only one ingredient in, the, production itself and it is not and, in. The Renaissance, certainly it's not the defining ingredient. So. Much of the theater that's happening in the Renaissance is strongly influenced, by things like comitia, yeah where the, script for commedia playing if there is a script is three, pages the very most and it's, you know a whole scene will be you, know Pantalone, a enters, with. A bush. On his head our, Latino enters disguised as a doctor and convinces. Him that he has the plague. Restoration. You, get these you can you can still find them, short. Sketches, which are only described, the whole thing essentially, is just stage directions it's just a description of the action of the business and the, lines themselves are just whatever comes into everyone's head heads what, form, is there a good example of that from the droll you did first yesterday which is the. Barber. Take. Your pick. Here. With us and I was wondering whether you could do the same exact, bit twice. And we, can see how totally. It. Is we. Do pick, one, good. Brainstorm, on it Fuhrman have a thing guys. Yeah. What's. Interesting too is that burlesque, scripts, are the same it's, you don't have stage II directions, for how like April s production, goes off it's more like, these are the things that are going to happen this is where our road map go, have fun yeah. Some. Of the. Has. Has. Had something, like that form as well so there'll be censorship, rules like you can't show a member of the royal family on the stage yeah, like I think it doesn't matter what they say. This. Is why I've. Got up from the brain but this is why allegedly, in. Boris. Godunov, you, have the czar on the stage a lot but. In convention. Huh which is the other source key thing about this are there is no czar on the stage at any point and it's, because, the. Czar who historically would, have been the czar at the time of prevention was. The. The ancestor. Of the currents are so you weren't allowed to try him on the stage but, you can show Boris Godunov because, there's a break in the dynasty dynasty yeah, I'm, interested, in the penalties, that were available to, the Lord Chamberlain to punish, bad.
Performances, Or you know non-compliant, performances, where the penalties first, of all what were they and second of all who were they visited, upon was it was the, director. Was at the theater proprietor, was it the individual, player, it. Changes at different times I mean basically he, had the power because, he was also the licensor, of the theater so he could take away that theatres license, to, perform anything. At all there. Are also examples, and, it's, not usually the writer actually it's, it's the theater manager or, the actor. And. There, are examples, of actors. Being taken to court and find. Theater. Managers. Think. The. Law him did never dealt with the playwright, this, is a playwright didn't exist at all between the manager. Chamber. Then the manager can go to the playwright and say are, you happy to change this line. But. It's since it's not the playwrights responsibility. What they perform I think. That there's, also fines, were used because I know the windmill got fined multiple, times. So. There was also the financial, issue of well we're a theatre we don't actually make that much money so I'm just wondering you know if an actor decides, to become non-compliant. And say, a bunch of things they know they're not meant to say. Is there. As the worst thing that happens to them that they, may not work in that town again because, the. Lord Chamberlain is going to make it known to the or the Lord Chamberlain had such horrible penalties, on a theater owner that, the theater owner will never and, and. No theater owner will ever let that player be on their stage again because it would be reckless I think. That's right I think it is to say their own this responsibility. I say the managers responsibility yes. And and was, there ever since that the Lord our, Chamberlain would. Be more lenient with the. Things you wanted to perform based on who you were your relationship, with them or whether you're known to be a good actor or bad actor not. In a sense of a player during, the sense of an, active in society. Yes, I think I think it's very complicated I, mean that's because there are several strands that, happen one one is that. He, expects, theater managers, and actors, to be decent and play the game so, he, would invite them in for a glass of sherry, to. Some changes Palace where he was based and. They would negotiate and. Agree things, and if you if you went along with, that and played the game he. Would then trust you whereas, if you if you took a as, particularly playwright. Started to do in the 1950s. And 60s take, quite a an aggressive. And abusive. Stand. Towards of on Chamberlain, and so I'm not going to take any notice of what you do then, he would be much less, you. Would have a reputation he. Would be far more censorious. But. Alongside that there's also the, thing of he. Didn't one. Things Lord Chamberlain's, like to avoid, was. Bad. Publicity. Therefore. He didn't really. Want to get into a clash with, a very. Famous well-known. Actor, with a Laurence Olivier or or, whatever, because. He would look the. Press would make the Lord Chamberlain, look foolish. So. He's hedged in by things. Like that whereas actors he'd never heard of he. Would he would be much you. Wouldn't have that all. Writers in, which. They're from the actors perspective, makes it a more complex thing if if, you. Go off-book and it's gonna be really good and successful, then it may well end up being worth your while, -. To break the rules because it'll give you more more, more cachet it'll make you more popular it'll boost your current off that you're you're strong enough to withstand. Any, kind of attacks. Or penalties will change they're really interesting parallels between this and the Motion Picture Association as, well as voluntary. Theatrical. Or. PG. Pg-13, are. Nc-17. There's, a really good documentary about this called this film is not yet rated by, Kirby dick and. The. MPAA, forum this voluntary, censorship, board on the. Grounds, that if they did so then they could avoid any sense that they might be later censored, much like the comics code or the Hays Code and it's. Really it's code. And they've out at the time that they would have a secretly. Impaneled, ever-changing. Group, of young parents, of young children who. Would be in no way affiliated with the studio's that owned the MPAA who. Would gather to, rate. The movies and to provide impartial feedback, to. The filmmakers, and it, was it was widely believed, among independent, filmmakers that if you weren't with the MPA you got judged more harshly, particularly. If you got an nc-17 rating, none of the theatrics, theatrical. Exhibitors would exhibit your your film because, if you couldn't bring kids in even 16 year olds then you, couldn't put enough bums in seats to make it worthwhile and so, you are much more likely to get an nc-17 if, you're an indie film than if you're the MPAA and to, evaluate this Kirby.
Dick Hired, a pair, of private. Detectives to. Figure, out who the MPAs ratings, board were and one. Of his theses from having talked a bunch of independent filmmakers, was that you. Were much more likely to get a more, strict rating if you had sex than if you had violence and the, thing that would give you the most strict rating of all was to have gay sex any kind of gay romance and so, he hired these these two middle-aged, lesbian. Private. Detectives, to follow. Around the MPA until, they figured out who their, censorship. Board were who turn out to all be middle-aged. Studio executives, spouses, and. Then. And, and who had been giving much more detailed, feedback to the studio's like if you cut this frame, and that scene in this bit then we will go we'll take you from nc-17, down to our whereas. If you were an independent studio you would it be like playing battleship, they would just say it's an nc-17 and, you would cut a bunch of stuff and send it back to them they'd go nope still nc-17, and you just have to keep cutting until you got that are back so, the best part of this movie is when, submits, a print, of the film in which he reveals, the identity of the ratings board to, the ratings board. And. It's fantastic. And the. Former California congressman, who had become the CEO of the MPA at that point calls, him up and he's in a one-state recording legal state so he records the phone call and it, features in the film where, he's talking to the CEO of the MPA is formerly very powerful congressman about the fact that he's about to have their, entire rating for it it's very very good but it reminds me a little of this this idea that when you have a censor who. Can, make arbitrary decisions, that. They can kind of channel. You into your lane. Yes. And. One of the. One. Of the things that always lured, him in always took note of what once he'd given a license, to one theater, for. A particular play, any. Other theater could, do it so. There's a confused me there's a one. Of the places often seen as having brought sand soup down in the 1960s. Was a play, by Edward. Bond called saved which, is still a very shocking play it has a scene in which a, bunch, of use, stone. A baby to death in a pram in a park and. Then set fire to it because they've got basically, because they've got nothing better to do and, it should. Be licensed, in theatre, that wants to do it is the Royal Court Theatre which. Is you know a very famous. Well-established. Theatre. But, the Lord Chamberlain, actually, says.
Conclusively. Exactly that something like the. Royal, court audience will be all right watching, this but if another. Group of people get hold of this play and perform it two gangs of young men. Who. Might be inspired to go out and do the same sort of act, then. That's. A reason why we must have licensed it the the youth copycat, concerning. The same that we see with the extra, censorship, of depictions, of teens, this, idea of youth copycatting. As. Being one of the still palatable. Justifications. For censorship that's, consistently, used though the Puritan war on theater in, all the tract that comes again and again and again this idea that apprentice, is a shirking. Work and going to watch these plays and then mimicking, their monastery there's um there's even a line in in in in the in the droll, I'll. Use the worse than the Prentiss is a suburb board on a Shrove Tuesday the, the place of theatre was in was, was lick was literally, and, metaphorically. The same, as that of, prostitution. And public, execution, and bear, baiting they, were considered, essentially, the same thing inhabited the same place, in, society and, were considered, equally. Dangerous. And, undesirable. Well. That's interesting that um that. Executions. Were so much more calm. Yeah. That. The third Horrible's, novel so Michael Diller rivetti was a travel writer who got fed, up with a very, treacly British, children's. Television show called the wimba, rambles, Wimbledon, common one little models that were both so. He made he, told, his kids a bedtime story where, the rumbles, of Wimbledon. Common were, these giant, rat like creatures, who, were hunted, by children, who killed, them called. The burbles and they're. They're really good adventure reads but the third one had the misfortune to be scheduled, for publication by HarperCollins just, after the Brixton uprising, and, HarperCollins, cancelled the publication, of the third book because. They said what we can't in a. Moment in which young people are in the streets throwing stones at policemen we, can't publish a book in which children, immortal. Children with pointy ears take their catapults, into the street and kill giant rat beasts. It. Wasn't published for another decade. And. Actually, one of the things the the Lord Chamberlain t'do in the 1950s. And 60s was, to take from. Film. The. The system of different, ratings, so that you could restrict ages. Because that, never existed in, theatre he, wanted to introduce a system because. Again he said. You, know far be it from me to defend the Lord Chamberlain, but I can. See his, point anyway that any, play he licensed, any, kid could go in and see so, he has to keep that him it's. Also worth noting, but at. Least one, of the stated purposes, of a Lord Chamberlain's Forest little children was, concerned, was to stop the spread of fake news it, was to stop, to. Stop giving. One-sided. Non at presents diversions. Events which would then which, could then cause. An. Up Cooke riot, uprising. Etc. Intersected. With two things I've been thinking about through this discussion, one, the. Degree to which, unlike. Books. Or, images. Theater. Is very much pulling, on the same. Challenges. To government that freedom of assembly it's a freedom of assembly question. In addition to it. Because. You have a group of people coming, together in one place so.
It Has all, of the narrative. Potential. Dynamism. Of a novel but all of the social, action, dynamism, of a, protest, for example, or any, kind of March or parade that, is bringing a large number of people into one place which is something that other literary, forms, don't. Generate, and so don't grapple with in terms of the anxieties, of the state absolutely you see that again and again it it's, stated that what the ideas that someone might come across in a book on their own sitting, at home lying library, will not affect them in the same way as if they are in a group of people all of getting the same ideas together from, someone physically, talking, to them that, the community, yes. What. I think is kind of interesting is that we're, talking about in England the Lord Chamberlain, existed, in police theatre which we, didn't have in the United States so the, burlesque movement, in the United States was being policed not, John not by a theatrical board, but, by the police. And by specifically. What we call community standards. Community standards, comes up a lot in the legal definitions, of obscenity, but. What, it typically, comes from is somebody objecting, to something they saw in the theater and so they scurry off and, tell somebody else any, it's back to somebody in power whether, it's Fiorello, LaGuardia, who was the mayor of New York who decided to crack down on. The burlesque theaters of New York City or if it's a police commissioner, who's decided, that they don't want this in their town anymore, and you, see it over and over again up until now. There. Was recently a crackdown on burlesque, in Jersey City because. They were posting, photos, of, their, shows on Facebook, and so. The local community, not not, the local community, of actual people who live in Jersey City but the people in local government, said, we, don't want this in our zoning laws so we're going to change the way that you're allowed to do theater in this neighborhood. So. In Britain. It's important, to say that most. Theatre managers, were in favor of the system of censorship by the Lord Chamberlain just, for that reason because it gave them protection. They got a license, and, if local, people, particularly. It applied to touring, shows but not only touring shows if people started to complain and, say we don't think you should be allowed to do that some local, organizations some. Local society, individual. Theater, manager can say look it's approved by the Lord Chamberlain, who is a servant, in the royal household, so effectively, it's, been approved by demonic. On this this affects all sorts of performance, including music I remember a friend of mine describing, waking up one morning in, her Manhattan, apartment and hearing. A bagpipe, in the distance and walking. Toward it you know enjoying the music and then, eventually getting within line of sight of the player who was in a park who, upon, seeing a human approaching, immediately, stopped playing and picked up a piece of paper and waved it I have a license. Because. So often people, try to shut down a bagpipe, later. But. That, by having that license existed you have a protection, at the same time that you have the censorship and technically, you do things you you could still be prosecuted, but it the effect, was everybody, thought it was as if you have protection, so for, most of the 20th century it was playwrights, who were against, the, Lord Chamberlain, censorship, theater, managers, until.
The 1960s were in favor and I will, the United States did have licensing. New, York for example at the Cabaret license, which, required that you have a liquor license, but you also had to cover it have to have had to have a cabaret, license, and, in New York what that meant was if you didn't have a cabaret license, you couldn't have dancing, at. All until. 2012, so. If you were dancing, in a club that didn't have a cabaret license, in New York City you were technically breaking the law until 2012, so. You. Go ahead oh no I was just going to say I think it's. A it's worth bearing in mind with the British situation, with Lord Chairman's cases as we say his, power comes from mnemonic and that's, in. Contrast, to the. Government, perhaps. Not necessarily in practice, but in in principle. Those. Do different things so this idea of. Of, um of pluralized. Censorship. And different ways of accessing in different ways around it is that, that. Becomes very relevant to him it's, interesting what happened to community standards as the internet came up so you, know the Internet's origin story is in military, research, DARPA, RAND Corporation it. Was run by research, institutions. Public universities. Government. Agencies and, the people who administered, it had a kind of sense of patrician, duty to it and also a sense, that if there was anything like, pornography, on it that some day some congressmen, would get up in in. DC on the floor and say why is the, government funding, smile and so, that's why the the early, days of the internet all the discussions, were the. Subjects. The discussions, were always moderated, if you wanted to create a new discussion group on Usenet the, administer, administrators. Of the Usenet nodes, in the world needed. To vote on whether or not your discussion, group, could be formed and sex, was was off-limits this ended when the first commercial. Dial-up ISP, was started by John Gilmore I've mentioned here before who, started, the little garden and created. A Usenet node where, anyone. Could connect to it and he created a hierarchy, called alt that, very quickly became larger than all of the rest of the internet and included. Pornography, but. At. The time that the internet started to become demilitarized. And D. Government alized and privatized, Al Gore held hearings in 1995. Call. The national information infrastructure, hearings or the, information. Superhighway, hearings, where they were also called and one of the questions they considered is how community, standards could possibly apply because. You might be making something that wasn't smut in Manhattan. But it might be smut in Tennessee, and so, the question. Whose community, standards applied and what would happen to someone reached across and caught you you, know and, we had previously resolved these kind under with things like not, letting you mail obscene, things through the mail but, if we said you couldn't move, an obscene thing over the Internet and obscene was whatever anyone, the the thing, that the least tolerant person in America found to be obscene then, the internet couldn't carry anything and the, answer was something called the Communications, Decency Act the CDA which.
Basically. He banned the. Sex. On the Internet, it said that that hosting. Companies would be held liable for allowing. Material, that was inappropriate for children to be viewed on the internet there. Was a lawsuit over this property American. Civil Liberties Union and Electronic, Frontier Foundation, that, part of the CDA was struck down and the part that remains is. On. The one hand a safe harbor where service. Providers are not liable for, obscenity. By. Their users or by other but for other bad speech acts by their users when you hear companies like Twitter say, CDA. 280 means that I don't have to police, Nazis, that's, the same, same. Rule and. Also, that recipients. Of federal funding. Had to censor their their internet connections, to, keep child. Child, inherent material off the network which is why public libraries, public schools all have, these filters, and in, the UK this this system was paralleled, in broad. Strokes but it's about to end in. The, last parliament there. Was a rule, passed the. Age verification rule, that's being administered by the BBFC, which is which also regulates. Films which says that if you're an internet service provider you. Have an obligation to, only allow through. Pornography. Websites that, perform, an age verification step. With. The. Person who is looking at the porn and so you have to collect multiple. Noncontradictory. Pieces. Of personal identifying, information. Keep them on file so effectively, creating. Databases of the foreign viewing habits of 20 million British, adults. Which. Can which given, that a lot of this is going to be based, on credit, card data will, also be suitable by net worth and blackmail ability. Which. Is potentially, really catastrophic, and the BBFC has produced some very mild, guidelines. About the privacy safeguards that, should be accompanied. With this rule but, they're, voluntary, guidelines and, not mandatory, and there's currently a petition circulating, to, make the BBFC s very, minimal, privacy, guidelines mandatory. For everyone who collects and, retains. Indefinitely, the pornography viewing, habits of every, adult in Britain, I will. Also follow up on that with the fact that places. Like Twitter and Instagram and, Facebook will. Regularly, take, down for Less performers, promotional, photos they will regularly. Say this, is obscene material, or this is pornography, and remove it from their, from. Their profiles, which means that it's impossible. For. Burlesque, performers, to promote on, any of these platforms because. Ultimately they will get shut down but, they still won't shut down Nazis I have questions but they're not doing it because they're legally, obliged right they're doing it because they think that that's sound, business exactly. I think it's sound business to, protect children and families, but they don't think it's sound business the other way around because. Societally. We have problems, with sexuality, I, think. It's ironic as well that generally, speaking more awful not the consequence, of them. Of. The. That's. Controlled. Pornography, simply to push people, towards. VPNs. And towards, the dark web and to and to places where even if what they're looking for is totally innocuous they're. Going to be having to sort through lots of incredibly. Extreme. Pornography to get there it's actually we can't the consequences, it exposes people to far, darker, stuff far worse stuff so in Australia where there's been. Tightening. Ratchets. On copyright, infringement, there the statement has always been we're not gonna ban VPNs, Australians are very wedded to their VPNs, because, so, much content is windowed, for release in Australia last, in the Anglosphere, and so, Australians rely like Australians who want to watch Doctor Who what need, to use a VPN to get outside of Australia, to, see the same episode of Doctor Who all their friends on the internet are talking about it and it's ever been thus and so, first they had a rule that said, you.
Couldn't, That. That. People. Who represented, studios primarily Village Roadshow, and Fox could. Send a letter to an isp and demand that a website be blocked, after. Getting a court order showing, evidence that that website was. Primarily, used for infringement. Are. Primarily intended for infringement, the, next round of it that's going through now is that if the website is primarily, used for infringement, so it doesn't have to be intended for infringement it can just be like a locker. Or or, any of these other services used. For infringement they can get a block and they can also demand. The search engines block results. That point to things that are blocked in Australia which, will make it harder for Australians, to know what is blocked, and. They. Still say well we're not going after VPNs, we're, just going after this stuff because the last round which we swore would work didn't, work but this round we swear will work and we definitely won't have to come for VPNs, but of course VPNs, defeat all of this stuff so, the next phase. Acknowledge. The validity and usefulness of, blocking infringing material in Australia, and now, that we've gone through all these rounds to try and do it well, I guess that the only step remaining is to take the VPNs. The. Question of this, kind of stuff pointing people at the dark web, for. Me immediately makes me think of the drill place as well because what have you done you shut down the. Legitimate. Theater and said, there - no there can't be any illegitimate there so there can only be illicit, theater so what kind of theater does that generate it generates theater which is a much, higher ratio. Of crude. And grass and sexualized. And and, removes. The, impetus, for there to be other forms of theatre so. We've been talking about this a lot the the, the. Likelihood that women would have performed intro. Plays because, even, though women weren't legally allowed to perform on. The stage until the restoration, nobody. Was hard to be performing on the stage throughout, the interaction so, why wouldn't you it, would be it. Would be naive, to think that what would end up being a huge draw. Especially, for a society which is used to only sing men on stage, suddenly, if you go to this if, you go to the back room of this pub you can see a bunch of women singing dancing, and acting well, why wouldn't you there's. Nothing to lose at this stage and and, that's I mean and that's so. Far as we're gonna turn a positive thing but, there's that there's there's, far worse aspects. To it in terms of them in terms. Of. Dark. And racist, subject, matter things which perhaps it isn't a good thing which, people are actually saying through theatre I like, the way you discuss, you describe that the performers. Who would who would do who. Do, the body plays as the ones who were not, so. Good that they could go abroad and not so skilled. That they could get another job and so they were the dress this, is an important thing jumper as well the actors who are doing this they're the they're not the really, good actors, who have some kind of social standing they've got too much to lose most of them Coons and we go abroad and keep acting, where it's still legal or they, don't really need to keep acting so. It's not those guys and it's not the stable ones who can move into other careers anyone who's a sort of ready. To be well-adjusted adults. Can simply do something which isn't acting, the, people, who are doing these jobs they're not people they're not doing it because they, love theater. Or because they really care about the movie they're doing it because there's they unless. There's. Such reverence they can't hold down any other job, it's. A matter of last resort and they're not clever all good. They're. Just dangerous, mad stupid, drunks. With. Like these going. Have. You guys worked out what you're gonna perform I, don't. Think they want to perform I, do. Think they might in this context, be I, think. It might be a bit like dissecting a frog. To. See how it moves. I. Think. It's worth, making a little more explicit so, there aren't women on the stage before this period that the theater is bad and then suddenly there are a couple of examples that we know of, fundamentally.
The Law makes. It harder and, then there's a lot more after, oh. Yeah cleans that it suddenly becomes a it's. A viable career option. But, for anybody who wants to sew this strange, connective. Tissue, moment. Of the illicit theater seems to also be instrumental. In what ship you could compare this to to, the, first, world wars influence. On women's, right to vote of course, it's, this sort of, soft. Experiment. In a society where women are able, to work, just as much as any man can, before, it becomes established as, you, know peacetime, law, know. Things also, that great. Work and, I wonder whether there are connections it just occurs to me so so in the 40s and 50s when everything, breaks down and there's. No ecclesiastical. Licensing, there are no bishops there's no. Like. Good licensing for a while and. It. Becomes, a scandalous, case that there are women preaching and. There's. A particular pub actually called the nags head which is now. It. Would be on Coleman Street which is up near, open. And. In. The next head this what, I forget the name but she she. Runs, a kind of discussion. Shop for, how, you will reform, everything in the state and in the church and, in society and. This and, repeatedly, she's. Reported, to the government from, about 16 41 right through the 50s when, it stops, and. So, there is this sense that I know, maybe these girls are taking place in sites. Where sure, people that people are drinking and carousing, there's. Something, more to it than just being. Drunk. And falling over there's. A there's a there's. A, political culture you see, in, that sense yeah and. I think there is too burlesque as well there. Is a very strong, political movement. Within burlesque. I was, talking to ADA yesterday. About this that there's, this apocryphal. Moment when Gypsy Rose Lee was arrested in 1940. I think of 1940, and as. They're walking her out while she's being arrested what, she says to the press is because I was covered by a blue spotlight, and if. This is Apocrypha, which it might be it still tells me something, what it tells me is that these, women were completely. Aware of the fact that what they were doing was illegal what, they were doing was subversive. And they were doing it anyway because, they wanted to make a statement about what their bodies could do and what they could do on a stage and, that's still happening in the burlesque movement, now it's. Still a part, of the performance aspect. There are people who are performing in burlesque now who, have never been allowed to do traditional theatre one. Of the performers, I know is named Jacqueline, box and, she is a wheelchair user and she says it's the first time in her life that she's been allowed to be beautiful, and she's been allowed to be objectified, because she's a wheelchair, user and. There's people who are doing nerd Lesk where. Black, women are doing, acts like as Princess. Leia and they're, able to embody. A character who, for. General, purpose they're, not allowed, to because of their race so, I think that there's an opportunity within. The burlesque sort. Of art. Style. To, take on things and identify. Them and play with them in, a way that you don't get to in other art forms could, you briefly give us a couple of examples, of, some of the nitpicky, detail of the regulations, on what. Is it isn't legal and in different places you've. Given me examples, before from, places. Like Las Vegas because, it's fascinating how micro detailed, the, policies, will be sure. So in Las Vegas which is my favorite example there are different Commissioners, districts, and the, burlesque Hall of Fame is a yearly, convention. Of burlesque performers, where there's a competition and lots. And lots of burlesque performers, come from all over the world and they get to perform on a massive stage at the Orleans Hotel it. Has not always been at the Orleans Hotel the. Orleans is, roughly, here the, palms is, down the block at, the palms in 20.
In 2009. There. Was a requirement that, you cover the underboob, as well as the areola, which is your nipple, because. That. Particular commissioner, believed that the under boob was unacceptable, to be seen by the public. The. Orleans does not have a problem with the under boob. By. A bloc literally. A block that's, the only difference so you can be arrested for showing, this in the right you can be really dumb because, you know can be fined right. Also. In Las Vegas there are 500, foot no nudity, rules between, the gambling table and. You. Which, means that there are certain casinos, that have been built so that there are no rooms above. The. Casino floor so, that you don't accidentally. Be naked above, the tables. There. Are certain state states, where it is illegal for you to show, your butt cracks you must, have an inch wide strap of fabric covering, your butt. Certain. Districts, in the south don't, allow burlesque. And. Alcohol. To coexist, so, you'll have the, you'll literally have two rooms one room will be for drinking when we release for stripping so. It's and, these go from state to state so, you. Need to have a very detailed knowledge, of, what. It is that you're going to do where, you're allowed to do it and what costume, you're going to wear and, sometimes. You, decide not to do it because you want to make them take a risk and you want to talk about why. It's weird that women, have to cover their areola, and many don't mm-hmm. We. Am we've performed, at. A festival, before where after, the first performance we often open the, show because, we do by having ever giving, all the audience a shot and all the actors everyone, does the shot together to open it after. The first performance we. Were told, the. Venue. Would. Told us that we had to pass. A field sobriety, test before. Every single show, and. So. We made it so obviously we made it part of the thing and. We all had to close one eye and put her finger on our nose and walk in a straight line and, if we fail to we just weren't allowed to perform. And. The thing is that max health and safety go on that that's that's and that isn't because that's the law that's, just because, somebody. In charge of the venue is, afraid. Of what the law might be. That's that's an infective, a of thinking, which is a consequence, of of. Laws which might which are considerably. More permissive. Than than that but, it's one of these the majority, of censorship. Is self censors absolutely, that. We keep coming back to but. That the majority of self censorship is really intentionally. Cultivated, because one of the one. Of the effects, of making the laws restricting. Something like burlesque so complicated. Is that it makes it that, many man-hours more, difficult, that you have to do five man hours worth of legal research. Before. You perform in any new venue, to, make sure that there aren't new statutes, that you don't know about and the.
So The barrier, to being a performer, isn't just the effort that goes into performance, it's that effort plus you, know five. Hours a week of being your own lawyer and. These kinds, of things can be what makes the difference between it's worth it and it's not worth it and I will do it or I won't so, I think there's a sutler effect actually going on here that the the health, and safety gone mad reminds, me of which, is that nebulous. Rules that, are difficult to pin down in advance put, their thumbs on the scale for people who are intrinsically, conservative. More cautious, or control freaky and so, in the UK there's a pressure group called sense about science that the Wellcome Trust and others back that, it's part, of its job is to go around and tell people that there is no health and safety rule that says you must do acts that's, just your boss being weird right, so among other things there's like people who clean the train platforms, who were told by their boss that they couldn't wear woolly hats on cold mornings because they wouldn't hear the trains if they were coming in and they might fall on the tracks and and, it turned out he just didn't, think that the hats look professional, and so he made them be cold right, there was an epidemic, of. People. Who believed, it was like a weird, urban legend that spread around that if tombstones. Fell over and hurt. Someone that the cemetery, or the local council could be held liable and there, were people who set up consultancies, where they go around and they kicked tombstones, really hard for you to see whether or not they were in danger of falling over and then, charged you to make them not so falling, over ish and, again this was like there is no under, law rule about this you know there's a infamous, instance, of someone doing a panto of Peter Pan and the. Theater. Manager telling everyone that the audience, had to wear hardhats while Peter Pan was on the flying wire and. So on and so on and it's, it's it's funny but it's also an example of how like if you have a rule that's sort of super broad and whose outcome. Can't be understood, readily, in advance of an adjudication. The. Worst people get, to make the worst rules and just insist. That that's what the rule says see, also aviation. And. I think it's interesting that like the example, of the underboob, debacle, also in occurs with they, all show up this wasn't a prior prior. Explained. Issue everybody. Shows up from all over the world and suddenly it's like you need to make underboob covers before you can get on stage, so. Now you have frantic burlesque performers, in Las Vegas trying to make new costume, pieces it's, an extra, barrier yeah and, I think that in some ways it's almost a deliberate, we. Don't approve, of the thing that you're doing so, we're going to make it that much harder. I'm. Interested when you talk about burlesque, being a place where you could experiment I it. Reminded me of people talking to Golden Age science fiction particularly. Judith. Merrill who was this feminist. Science fiction writer and editor and critic who was living in Chicago until the police riots in 68, who then went into exile in Toronto, where she became my mentor, and, one of the things she talks about is that you.
Could Get away with a lot of very political, stuff in science fiction at a time when, the politics, might have been frowned upon, because. Nobody. Took science fiction seriously, enough to care Rod Serling also was a good example of this with Twilight Zone very, much very, much so I mean so much that's wise I have like the phase of time. And. Osamu Tezuka as I've discussed before in manga, so. Comic. Books get targeted by a lot of censorship, when it when they're depicting, sexuality, or nudity but. Or. Provocative. Political. Content, but. When there's less. Provocative political. Content, comic. Books tend to be less policed, than. Serious, or adult literature, and so you can have chewy discussions. Of the rightness or wrongness of what, your country is doing and those, don't, tend to be policed as much now if you're making fun of one particular politician, who. Will then get upset, that's that'll, that'll cause trouble but, you know so there are these strange ironic patches, where certain. Kinds of expression, are easier, to get published, in comic books or group the police bless while, others are harder to put, out in comic books then we'll get policed more depending. On very subtle sensitivities. Of which kinds, of things people, are gonna point at or look for in. The comics and speaking of that could some one of you theater reversed historian. Types talk, about Hansard and and, answer. Its relationship, to theater. And censorship. Of parliamentary, reporting, I only. Know the broad outlines, of this. I. Don't know. But, basically I mean I don't know the Hansa story but it but. You. Know earlier. Than somewhere. In the like. Sevente