1968 Theatres Act

1968 Theatres Act
  • Title: An Act to abolish censorship of the theatre and to amend the law in respect of theatres and theatrical performances.

  • Date : 1968

  • Catalogue number : Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1968/c54

  • Description :
    Theatre censorship had existed since the sixteenth century, and a 1737 Act appointed the Lord Chamberlain as official licenser of plays and regulated restrictions on drama. Little changed regarding the censorship of plays with the passing of the 1843 Theatres Act, which was still in place over 100 years later. There were several attempts to amend legislation regarding restrictions of stage performance. In 1909 a Joint Select Committee which included notable creative figures such as George Bernard Shaw, J.M. Barrie and William Gilbert sought to clarify the reasons for refusing to licence a play. In 1966, a Joint Committee of both Houses was established. It took evidence from people in the theatre business, including Peter Hall, Kenneth Tynan and Benn Levy. The committee was concerned with freedom of speech in plays and on the stage. Theatre censorship was finally abolished in 1968, providing an end to restrictions which had been in place for over 200 years.

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