Actors should be trained for sex scenes just as carefully as they are for on-stage sword fighting, it has been claimed, amid a campaign for theatres to protect actors during intimate performances.
A set of rules designed to prevent exploitation, entitled the "Sex on Set" guidelines, have been drawn up in an attempt to protect vulnerable actors and actresses, recommending banning sex scenes and nudity from auditions and insisting on a closed set for rehearsals.
Designed by movement director Ita O'Brien, who describes herself as Britain's first "intimacy director", they call on theatre to do more to help stars with delicate scenes. O'Brien told industry magazine The Stage:
"There is an assumption that people don't know how to fight with swords, so you get somebody in to teach them, and people assume you don't know how to do a foxtrot, so you get a choreographer in, but the thing with sexual contact and sexual expression is the idea that everybody knows how to do it so we don't have to take care.
"Invariably whenever there isn't transparency, whenever everybody isn't in agreement and knows what's going on, that's when actors are left vulnerable."
The magazine reported the Sex on Set guidelines had already been implemented by O'Brien on productions including the Orange Tree Theatre's Low Level Panic, and in drama schools.
She and her agents at Carey Dodd Associates are now calling for the advice to be adopted throughout the industry with the key principles of "transparency, openness, agreement and consent".
Earlier this month, a theatre industry code of behaviour to prevent sexual harassment and abuses of power was published by the Royal Court theatre, in an effort to inspire a change in culture following allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood and London theatre.