Consent-based theatre is a theatrical practice that is a relatively new concept and has gained momentum in the past few years. It is a practice that focuses on and highlights the importance of obtaining explicit and voluntary consent from all participants in a theatrical production. This approach seeks to create a safe and comfortable environment for all participants.
Consent-based theatre is based on the belief that all participants should have agency and control over their bodies and their work, and that any form of physical, emotional, or psychological coercion should be avoided. It seeks to create a safe and respectful environment where all participants can fully engage in the creative process and feel empowered to express themselves freely.
There are four main aspects of consent-based theatre.
The first is explicit communication, where all participants are encouraged to communicate clearly and directly about their boundaries and expectations. Every other step is off needs that are communicated, so communication is especially important.
The second is having a safe space. Creating a safe and respectful environment where participants feel comfortable expressing their needs and concerns.
The third aspect of consent-based theatre is negotiating boundaries and expectations in a way that is respectful and considers the needs of all participants. There should be open discussion within your theatre so that you are able to determine what boundaries work best for all involved.
The last aspect, which is very important to the practice is ongoing consent. Checking in with participants regularly throughout the production process to ensure that consent is maintained from start to finish of a production.
It is important for consent-based theatre to have the entire team involved and participating to ensure that the production is truly a safe and comfortable environment for all. Taking these steps and remembering respect towards others is a key step in making these practices more prevalent throughout more and more theatre productions.