The Little Theatre Guild, of which I am a proud patron, is worried about the proposed new law that in all UK theatres, at all times, minors should be accompanied by licensed chaperones. As in professional theatres, Little Theatres already obey the existing law, by placing chaperones with children at all dress-rehearsals and performances. During other rehearsals, they follow best practice, by ensuring that children are accompanied by two adults at all times.
The Guild cannot recall a case of child abuse during its 50 years' history. The Daily Telegraph has challenged this assertion. The paper cites the case of a LTG director convicted of sexual abuse with a 15 year old. His offence was not initiated and did not take place on LTG premises. This suggests that current protection is adequate.
If the new law were applied to LTG members, involving wholesale vetting and extended use of chaperoning, the administrative burden would discourage any productions involving children. If this meant that young people could no longer act in amateur companies, the effect would be wide-reaching. I began acting with the Bolton Little Theatre when I was 12 years old. —Ian McKellen, London, 13 February 2010