Genuine Intentions or Ulterior Motives? “What are the common motivations for censoring theatre in Britain and have these remained consistent since the introduction of the Theatres Act 1968?”
Theatre has forever challenged boundaries and provided a space for the development of liberal ideas. However, there has also always existed those who aim to see controversial and provocative opinions quashed. Previously under the Royal Prerogative, the Lord Chamberlain assumed the position of statutory censor for British theatre under the Licensing Act 1737. Thus, began the 231-year reign of statutory censorship over British theatre until its abolition under the 1968 Theatres Act. Censorship still currently exists in many forms, ever evolving under the influence of a myriad of socio-political factors. This dissertation draws on the broad range of existing literature on the history of British theatre censorship. It offers a fresh perspective on the motivations that drove individuals and institutions to censor during the Lord Chamberlain’s time as statutory censor and the period of time since its abolition. Through the analysis of a number of censorship cases, this dissertation identifies the common motivations for censoring British theatre that remained consistent before and after the abolition of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office. Furthermore, this study discusses the emergence of hidden agendas for personal or political gain and identifies these as common occurrences in the censoring process.