‘Ladies and gentleman’ could be phased out of theatre greetings

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The standard greeting for theatre goers has traditionally begun “ladies and gentlemen” – but its days are numbered after new guidelines from the actors’ union Equity.

The union is urging theatres to avoid the phrase and instead use more gender neutral alternatives.

The National Theatre in London has announced that it will be removing “ladies and gentlemen” as a greeting, and the Royal Shakespeare Company has pledged to “strive to create environments” which support trans and gender fluid people.

The move comes in response to new gender-neutral guidelines set out by UK union Equity, which represents actors and entertainers, suggesting that the long-established introduction “ladies and gentlemen” should be phased out, according to the Sunday Times.

The advice is aimed at people and venues to adopt “gender neutral terminology” and be inclusive to those who may not identify as a lady or a gentleman, but may be transgender or non-binary.

Equity’s guide also advises against “backhanded compliments or ‘advice’ regarding appearance, clothing, voice quality, identity or the performer being ‘brave'”.

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Last month the Old Vic theatre established “self-selection” toilet facilities, which can be used by all genders, in place of men and women’s bathrooms.

Nica Burns, a co-owner of Nimax Theatres, which runs a number of London’s West End’s biggest theatres, told the Times: “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.”

Burns explained the theatres tended to keep things pretty simple and just use phrases such as “good evening” or “welcome”. 

The union has also urged for casting bosses to choose transgender performance to play non-trans characters.

The guide continued: “It is hard for trans actors to build a career out of the very small amount of trans-specific roles if these are the only roles for which they are actively sought.”



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