The government’s new vetting and barring scheme is putting theatre companies off casting children, according to local troupes.
Peter Hunt, a director for the Lindley Players in Whitstable, said: “It has added a layer of complexity for those of us trying to put on amateur productions and involve children, which we all want to do.
“The government legislation does cause us difficulties because you have to have licensed chaperones when you have youngsters in productions, which takes extra organisation for amateurs.
“I do understand the reasons in the current climate why this is going on, but I think the tendency will be for smaller groups to say they just cannot cope with the new regulations and won’t use children in their shows.”
The government’s new vetting and barring scheme means adults who work frequently or intensively with children will have to be registered with a new agency called the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
The legislation was created because of the Soham murders in 2002 in which two schoolgirls were abducted and murdered by the school’s caretaker, Ian Huntley.
Clare Ravenwood, one of the organisers at the Playmakers Youth Theatre in Herne Bay, said: “Getting volunteers to run the Youth Theatre is not too much of a problem but in terms of chaperoning it is actually a much bigger problem.
“Because of all the new laws about chaperoning kids who are 16 and under it means we have to get licensed chaperones for every performance and every dress rehearsal.
“Anyone who is under 16 has to be escorted to and from the toilet and to and from the dressing room, to the back of the stage, and they have to be seen to their car and back and so forth.
“The chaperones have to be CRB checked by the council and have a personal license, and there is a lot of onus on the people who are chaperones that if anything happens on their watch, there is a lot of weight on their shoulders.”
Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films, warned last month there would be a dearth of actors if children did not have the opportunity to start young.
Mrs Ravenwood said: “I know several amateur theatres that run youth theatres have either shut them down or said they just won’t use young people in their theatres anymore because they just can’t find the chaperones to do it or they don’t have the facilities to chaperone their kids properly.
“It is a really sad state of affairs. We are only managing because we have a really good bank of volunteers.”
Source and Acknowledgement: yourcanterbury.co.uk