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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Ethical considerations of casting children in plays with “adult themes”

A good number of plays, past and present, or television drama or films, for that matter, have characters who are not adults. The term adult is defined, in this context, as a person who has reached the legal age of majority, which for many countries across the world is eighteen onwards. The question that arises for the team of any production of such a play is whether to cast the characters of children and adolescents/teenagers with actors of an age similar to that of the characters, or with (young-looking) adults. For the 1974 National Theatre production of Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, for example, the adolescents were played by young adults (with Michael Kitchen aged 26, Jenny Agutter aged 22, and Peter Firth aged 21). Ethical issues arise with child actors in terms of the potentially damaging implications of stardom. In this article, however, I focus on the issues arising from the impact that the subject matter may have on the child actor. I summarise the important work Ott has done on this topic in her MA thesis in 2009 at the University of Oregon, USA, expand this with more recent examples, and develop an additional perspective from the context of consciousness studies to broaden the base for further discussion and research, for parents to make informed decisions about the lives of their children, and to inform policies of good practice in the entertainment industry.

Ott considers four case studies of “plays with adult themes”: The Pain and the Itch by Bruce Norris, in which the character of four-year-old Kayla is present when her parents have “intense, obscenity-laced screaming matches”, and on one occasion she enters with one hand inside her pull-ups, which the audience interprets correctly as indicating that her genitals are inflamed and itchy from a sexually transmitted disease, presumably from her uncle (Ott 2009: 1, 28). With regard to a production of The Trojan Women by Euripides, Ott discusses social violence, loss and grief as potentially problematic contents, moving to physical abuse and torture in Martin McDonaugh’s The Pillowman, and ends with the topic of child suicide in Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author in the version by Headlong / Rupert Goold and Ben Power (2008). The age range of the child actors in those productions was five to fourteen. Only the young girl in Six Characters was played by a young-looking adult actor, probably because of the dangers involved for a younger person in carrying off the drowning in a fish tank special effect for her suicide scene.

Ott discusses a range of positions and options. Rating systems, similar to those for cinema and TV audiences, might help, but it is also problematic to justify setting a specific age limit before a child actor can safely engage with specific adult material, because children develop at different rates within a spectrum of development. Parents have the legal and ethical role of protecting and guiding their children, and “Involving a child in a positive way rather than using them for their naïve services is the ethical option” (Ott 2009: 18). In terms of artistic merits, involving child actors on stage in the context of adult themes may have a shock effect on the audience and thus allow an audience to become engaged in a new way. However, Ott also warns: “On the other hand, some productions use the child on stage as a token shock element: manipulating the audience into an unearned, strong emotional response. This decision deserves pause” (2009: 22).

In the context of her case studies, Ott identifies in official statements on websites and in letters to the editor supported by her own interviews, the ways in which company representatives and parents deal with the challenges of casting children in plays with adult material. In one company, the children were under constant supervision during rehearsals and performances. One parent noted that her child did not understand the meaning of some of the words used on stage, and was happy with that as sufficient to ensure the child would not be harmed by such language, even if exposed to it on a daily basis over the rehearsal period and the production’s run in the theatre. When pornography was playing on the on-stage TV set, cast and director ensured the children’s backs were turned. The mother of one of the girls performing in The Pain and the Itch, said: “although she does not currently consider her daughter a victim to the play and its material "I would call her a casualty if we had said no and deprived her of the opportunity of a lifetime because we were more interested in insulating our world from what others might think than putting her interests first" (Ott 2009: 34).

Where the company does not provide reassurance of some kind to audiences that they did take care of the child actors, problems can arise. For example, Ott left the theatre after the performance of the Goold / Power production of Six Characters “with many questions and concerns wishing that there had been a talk-back with the cast and crew to attend. More communication with the audience would have benefited this production that I experienced” (2009: 61). Another problem is that in some instances, according to Ott, the casting of a child actor for a child character without thorough prior reassurances of the audience is actually not helping the cause of the play. She quotes the critic of the Chicago Tribune in the review of The Pain and the Itch that “instead of drawing the audience in, the child actor in Steppenwolfs production of ‘pulled audiences out of the world of the play because of the concerns her presence raised’ (Ott 2009: 33, quoting Istel 2005: 115). She also points out that some authors do not provide instructions as to the age of the actors playing the child characters (such as McDonaugh for The Pillowman (2009: 49). In contrast, Jennifer Healey adds an author’s note to her play The Nether (2014):

It is important to cast Iris with an actress who will appear on stage as a prepubescent girl. The child actor takes the audience out of the play (Bert States, Great Reckonings in Little Rooms: On the Phenomenology of Theate, Oakland: University of California Press, 1987), which is desirable considering the contents of her scenes. The audience is assured nothing awful will be enacted upon the child, whereas they have no such confidence with an adult posing as a child. A young actress also adds warmth, which is critical to the chemistry of the play. (2014)

To provide the context for this, The Nether of the title is the former Internet, which has taken over much of the world, to the extent that some people choose to cross over and continue living there permanently. Morris is a young female detective working to maintain law and order in the Nether; she is investigating business man Sims, who has developed an area of the Nether in which “in-world” people can take on alternative identities and engage in activities considered immoral and criminal in conventional current and future ethical and legal contexts. Sims brings his customers, in their alternative identities, together with Iris, herself an avatar creature of the Nether, a child, with whom the customers then can have sex, and then they can kill her with an axe. Iris appears on stage, as does Sims in his avatar identity Papa, and one of Papa/Sims’s customers, Woodnut, who turns out to be an agent working for Morris and her force. Iris turns out to be the avatar of Doyle, a middle-aged male science teacher, whom Morris also interrogates. In his review for the Telegraph, Spencer insists that “you never worry that the young girl playing the beautiful Iris in the nether world will be traumatised by the play she is appearing in.”

Spencer did voice concern about the well-being of the 13-year old actor playing the “original party piece” in Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur (2005). The play is set in London in a dystopian future characterised by violence and a breakdown of law and order to the extent that the government decides to have the army systematically eliminate the population of entire areas. The play focuses on two male teenagers, Darren and Elliott (17 and 15 respectively), who work for a slightly older man, helping him organise parties in derelict houses with a “party piece” as central attraction for the client, the party guest. In this case the party piece is a 10-year old Asian boy who will help the guest fulfil his Vietnam-war inspired fantasies, which Darren and Elliott will film for him on a camcorder—thus creating a real-life snuff movie. The party-piece is sickly and frail, and dies before the guest can begin the torture—he is replaced by the older boy who found shelter in the derelict house and has joined Darren and Elliott in preparing for the party. The sexual dimension of the torture and murder of the original party piece and its eventual replacement is evident in the text. All violence happens off-stage, the audience hears screams, but does not see any violent act being carried out, only the result when the stand-in party piece returns to stage from the torture in its first stages.

It may not be as much of an ethical issue, some of Ott’s arguments seem to imply, if the characters and actors are older, closer to the age of majority, as, for example, in Scarborough by Fiona Evans (Royal Court, London, 2008). In the first half of this play, we see 15-year-old Daz with his 29-year-old teacher Lauren in a Scarborough bed and breakfast, while in the second part of the play, the characters in the same room, and with virtually the same lines, are 15-year-old Beth and her 29-year-old teacher Aiden. Lauren and Aiden reveal to Daz and Beth, respectively, that they want to end their relationship, which they had engaged in only to have some fun, and because they are in a long-term relationship, with Chris. Chris, now 47, was Lauren’s male swimming coach who seduced her when she was thirteen. Chris, now 47, was Aiden’s female swimming coach who seduced him when he was thirteen years old. Aiden is about to marry Chris, and Lauren is about to marry Chris. Thus the play invokes the victim-abuser cycle characteristic of paedophilia, the suggestion that often a person abused as a child becomes an abuser later in life. Scarborough also suggests that the adults have more power (in this case to break off the relationship), and the child is always the one to suffer most (Billington 2008).

To address the issues she raises, Ott proposes a set of guidelines covering parental involvement, company and cast involvement, supervision, aspects of the rehearsal process, communicating with the community, prospective and actual audiences, as exit interview and evaluation. All these guidelines work on the basis of what the child actor perceives through their senses of the potentially problematic contents of the play, the extent they understand the contents correctly, and how they are supported in dealing with the contents if they do understand it. This perceptual framework does not, however, take into account possible less tangible, but nevertheless equally important, aspects.

In my 2013 book Observing Theatre: Spirituality and Subjectivity in the Performing Arts, I introduced the philosophy of German geobiologist Hans Binder as the basis for discussions of aspects of theatre as varied as nostalgia in theatre, intuitive collaboration, praise of acting in theatre criticism, practice as research, digital performance, theatre and philosophy, the canon, applied theatre and aspects of acting including helping actors cope with stage fright. For the remainder of this article, I will apply his thinking to the ethical implications of having children perform in contexts of adult themes in theatre, film and television.

Binder explains his background and the development of his abilities in the following way. Even as a child, he had a special relationship with nature because, when he was one with nature, he was able to perceive the aura of many trees and plants as well as being allowed to hear the fundamental oscillation of the universe, the OM sound of nature. This should, however, gain greater significance only in the second half of his life. He learnt the crafts of reinforced concrete construction and horticulture, and was very successful in these areas for decades. In horticulture, he had a major business, which he gave up when his skills to investigate fault zones in houses, and to provide analyses of persons were in such demand that he was able to dedicate himself to them alone. In earlier times he used to dig deep into the gardens of the people, today he can do that in their subconscious minds to help them with the design of their lives. Until all was ready, he was able to learn a lot through training and studies. To this day, he continues researching and experimenting on his own in the field of consciousness studies. He has supplemented his natural talents with the study of the Veda, of Vastu, dowsing, and geomancy, and has acquired knowledge of all the materials and radiations, as well as the anatomy of all human body parts, organs and all their features. This bundled set of skills and all the knowledge he acquired are invested into all the holistic analyses and in development and manufacture of products.

The entire universe, according to Binder, can be understood as an energy field that integrates smaller units also as energy fields and interacts with the parent field, and other fields, since they are in turn connected to each other via the "everything that is" principle. Each planet has therefore its own energy field and is connected via the "unified field of natural law" again with the great whole. On Earth, there are then earth energy fields at each level of manifestation, for all plants and each plant, and for all animals and for each animal, and for all people and every individual (2013: 105). Everything that people have ever created and create, have manufactured and manufacture, in what form and with what material whatsoever, and what people have ever thought and think at this very moment, also represents energy fields, brought into being by the respective activities of manufacturing, creating and thinking. All levels of complex energy fields interact with each other and react to each other, in the sense that like attracts like in turn (2013: 106).

Each theatre production has its own energy field, which is an amalgam of the energy fields of the contents, the writer, the production team, and the performers. When the production is shown on stage, the energy field of the production further merges with the energy fields of the spectators at each performance. The same applies for the creation and screening and broadcasting of radio, film and television contents. The energy field of a theatre, film or television production affects all people involved in the production, whether they know it or not. It stands to reason that the production of a play “with adult themes”, such as the ones discussed above, will develop an energy field that is informed by those themes, and the ways in which the cast and crew think about the play, its themes, and themselves in relation to the themes. From an objective angle, the cast and crew’s thoughts may all be morally sound and ethically acceptable, but this still means that while working on the production, a lot of thinking about the contents is going on for both cast and crew, and the energy field of the production reflects that thinking about that subject. No matter how carefully a child actor’s parents and chaperones and wranglers and directors and fellow-actors try to prevent any harm coming to the child actor because of the adult material, and even if all the criteria developed by Ott are adhered to, the energy field is still in existence. Potentially, this energy field will have a stronger impact on the child actor than on the adults involved in the production. This has to do with the way energy is conceptualised in this context, and the ways in which it is absorbed, stored and used.

In Sanskrit, the term prana is translated as absolute energy, and the Chinese call it chi. The human energy system consists of:

1 the subtle energy body
2 the chakras
3 the nadis, also known as energy channels

The nadis have the task of supplying the energy bodies with life energy that was previously created in the chakras. In the human body there are a few thousand energy channels. The most important ones are called Ida, Pingala and Sushumna—we know them also from acupuncture, where they are known to us as meridians.

Within the human energy system, the chakras serve as the receiving stations, transformers and distributors of the various frequencies of prana. The chakras draw certain energies from the subtle bodies as well as from the environment and especially from the universe, transform those energies and, in turn, pass them on via the nadis back to the subtle bodies. Body, soul and spirit need these energies for their preservation and development. There are ancient writings that describe a number of over 80 000 chakras in the human body, with the result that there is hardly a point in the human body that is not suitable and intended for the reception, conversion and transmission of energies. However, most of these chakras are very small and play only a minor role in the energy system of the person. There are about forty minor chakras, which are of greater importance. The most important of these are located in the spleen area, in the neck, the palms and the soles. The seven major chakras that lie along a vertical axis at the front centre of the body are critical to the function of the most basic and most essential areas of the human body, mind and soul.

The chakras also take up vibrations directly from the environment, vibrations that match their respective frequencies. In this way they connect us through their various functions with the events in our environment, in nature and in the universe, by serving as aerials for the whole range of energy vibrations and information that go beyond the physical realm. They are the openings that connect us with the unlimited world of subtler energies. Similarly, the chakras radiate energy directly into the environment, thus changing the atmosphere around us. Through the chakras we can send out healing vibrations and conscious or unconscious messages and thus influence people, situations and even matter in a positive and negative sense (2013: 142-4).

The seven main chakras relate closely to major bodily and mental human functions. The root chakra, muladharachakra is located between anus and genitals, connected to the tailbone, and opens downwards. It is associated with the fiery-red colour, the element of earth, and the sense of smell. It is symbolised by the four-petalled lotus, its fundamental principle is physical will (as opposed to spiritual will of the seventh chakra). In the body, it is associated with the spine, bones, teeth, and nails, with anus, rectum, colon, prostate, blood and cell structure, as well as the adrenal gland. In astrological terms, the root chakra is associated with Mars / Aries, Taurus, Scorpio / Pluto, and Capricorn / Saturn. The root chakra links us to the physical world and channels universal energy to the level of physical energy. If it functions in harmony, it allows us to be well-grounded, full of energy, stability, contentment, and inner strength. If the root chakra is out of balance, it can function in a disharmonious manner or in terms of sub-function. In the case of dysfunction, thinking and action focus predominantly on material possession and security, on sensual stimuli and indulgence. People thus afflicted will have difficulties to give and receive openly and honestly. Their inability to let go and their desire to hang on to things often lead to constipation and obesity. In case of sub-function, people tend to be weak, with a lack of mental and physical resilience. They have increased feelings of insecurity, of having no proper grounding below their feet, and they perceive life as a burden.

The second chakra is the sacral chakra (svadhisthana). It is located above the genitals, linked to the sacral bone, and opens to the front. Its colour is orange, it is associated with the element of water, the sense of taste, and with the symbol of the six-petalled lotus. Its fundamental principle is the creative procreation of being. The physical associations are the area of the pelvis, organs of procreation, kidneys, bladder, and liquid substances of the body. Associated glands are ovaries, prostate and testicles. The sacral chakra is the centre of original, unmediated emotions, sexual energies and creative forces, and also the centre of the feminine principle. Through the sacral chakra we are part of the fertilising and receiving energies that permeate all of nature. If their sacral chakra is in balance and harmony, people will feel they are flowing naturally with life, and with their feelings. Disharmony of this chakra results in all kinds of problems with sexuality, sub-function takes the form a lack of feeling of self-worth, as well as emotional, mental and sexual callousness, depression, aggression and blaming others.

The third chakra is the solar plexus chakra (manipura), which is located by the width of two fingers above the navel. It opens to the front. Its colour is yellow to golden yellow, associated with the element of fire, and is symbolised by the ten-petalled lotus. The solar plexus chakra is associated with the lower back, the nervous system, the psyche, stomach, digestive system, liver, gall and spleen. The related gland is the pancreas. In the context of astrology, the solar plexus chakra is associated with Leo / Sun, Sagittarius / Jupiter, Virgo / Mercury and Mars. Through the solar plexus chakra, we absorb the energy of the sun and of the universe; we engage actively through this chakra with other people and the world, and this chakra governs our interpersonal relationships, preferences and antipathies. It is the seat of personality. The solar plexus chakra purifies the energies generated in the root and sacral chakras, channels and makes use of their creative energies consciously, and manifests the energies generated by the fourth to seventh chakras in the material world. On a physical level, the liver, governed by the solar plexus chakra, has the task, in conjunction with the digestive system, to analyse food, to separate useful and useless components, and to transform the former and pass them on to appropriate places in the body. When this chakra functions in harmony and balance, we feel inner harmony and peace with ourselves, with life and our position within it. We can accept ourselves, our feelings, desires and experiences in life fully and can respect the feelings and idiosyncrasies of other people. Because this chakra is associated with the element of fire, harmonious functioning of this chakra allows us to be full of inner light and full of strength, enveloping our bodies with light, which protects us from adverse influences and has a good influence on the environment.

Disharmonious functioning of the solar plexus chakra leads to the need for people to want to influence everything according to their own wishes, and to control our inner and outer world, to exercise power and to conquer. This is driven by inner restlessness and dissatisfaction. They seek in the outside world the kind of confirmation and satisfaction that they lack inwardly. They develop an incredible level of activity, with which they seek to cover up the nagging feeling of incompetence. They lack serenity and they find it difficult to let go and relax. Certain that they can achieve everything, they tend to control and suppress undesired feelings and emotions. These accumulate and are released in due course in the form of irritability and uncontrollable explosions of anger. Sub-functioning of the solar plexus chakra leads to people feeling despondent and disheartened. They see walls and obstacles everywhere.

The fourth chakra is the heart chakra (anahata). It is located in the middle of the chest at the level of the heart and opens to the front. Its colour is green, pink and golden; it is associated with the element of air, and the sense of touch. It is symbolised by the twelve-petalled lotus. In terms of body, it is associated with the heart, the upper back with ribcage and thoracic cavity, the lower part of the lungs, blood and the blood circulation system, and the skin. In terms of gland, the heart chakra is associated with the thymus gland. Its astrological associations are Leo / Sun, Libra / Venus, and Saturn. In the heart chakra, the three lower and the three higher chakras are linked. The chakra provides us with the ability to empathise and to feel with others. We perceive the beauty of nature, of the harmony of music, of the performing arts and poetry. Here, images, words and sounds are translated into feelings. If in harmony, the heart chakra is the centre of unconditional love, which exists only for its own sake, and which you cannot own or lose. We radiate natural warmth, geniality and happiness, which opens the hearts of other people, generates trust and gives joy. Compassion and readiness to help are further characteristics resulting from a balanced heart chakra. Our feelings are free of turmoil and conflicts, free of doubt and uncertainty.

If the heart chakra’s function is disharmonious, people might still want to give as much as possible, but that attitude is not unconditional, but related to expectations, and when those are not fulfilled, they people get frustrated and unhappy. Sub-function makes people easily vulnerable, and dependent on the love and affection of others. If such a person is then rejected, they feel deeply hurt, especially if they were courageous enough for once to open up. They the retreat even more into their shell, afraid of further hurt. If a person’s heart chakra is completely closed up, this will show in their coldness, apathy and heartlessness. Those people need particularly strong stimuli to feel anything at all.

The fifth chakra is the throat chakra (vishuddha). It is located between the pit of the neck and the larynx. It arises from the cervical spine and opens to the front. Its colour is light blue, also silvery and green-blue; it is associated with the element of ether, and the sense of hearing. Its symbol is the sixteen-petalled lotus. In terms of the body, it relates to the areas or throat, neck and jaws, ears, voice, vocal cords, trachea, bronchia, upper areas of the lungs, oesophagus, and arms. The related gland is the thyroid, the astrological associations are Gemini / Mercury, Mars, Taurus / Venus, Aquarius / Jupiter. The throat chakra is the centre of human expressiveness, communication and inspiration. It serves as the bridge between thinking and feeling, between our impulses and reactions to them, and we express everything that is within us through the throat chakra. When this chakra is in harmony, we are able to express without fear our feelings, thoughts and inner insights. We can reveal our weaknesses just as well as we are able to show our strengths. While we can express ourselves fully, we can also remain silent and listen to others with our hearts and with inner understanding. Our language is full of imagination but also very clear, full, and melodious. When faced with difficulties and obstacles, we remain true to ourselves, which includes the ability to say “no”. We are not influenced or engrossed by the opinions of others, but we maintain our independence, freedom and self-determination.

If the throat chakra lacks harmony, the communication between mind and body is disturbed. As a result, either people find it difficult to reflect about their feelings; feelings are pent up and released through rash action. Or people cocoon themselves within rational thinking, denying the existence and the wisdom of their feelings. Their way of speaking is either unpolished and rough, or rather matter-of-fact and cool, often accompanied by stuttering. The voice tends to be relatively loud, but without deeper content. These people will not allow themselves to come across as weak, but try to present themselves as strong at all costs, exposing themselves to much pressure in this way. They use their language to manipulate others, or try to attract attention by their ceaseless stream of talking. Sub-function of the throat chakra leads to a similar difficulty to express oneself, but people thus affected are rather withdrawn and shy, or they tend to talk only about inconsequential things of outward life. When pressed to say something about what they think deep down, they tend to feel as if they have a lump in their throat, and their voice sounds pressured. They tend to orient their thinking and behaviour according to what they think other people will appreciate, and do not know all that much about what they want themselves.

The sixth chakra is also called the third eye (ajna). It is located a finger’s width above the root of the nose in the middle of the forehead. It opens to the front. Its colour is indigo blue, also yellow and violet. It relates to all the senses, also in the form of extrasensory perception. It is symbolised by a 96-petalled lotus. In terms of the body, it is associated with the face, eyes, ears, nose, sinuses, cerebellum, and central nervous system. The related gland is the pituitary gland. Astrological associations are Mercury, Sagittarius / Jupiter, Aquarius / Uranus, and Pices / Neptune. The forehead-chakra, or third eye, is the seat of the highest mental powers, of the ability of differentiation, of memory, and will, and on the physical level it is the command centre of the central nervous system. It is also the link between soul and mind. If this chakra functions in harmony, we have an alert mind that allows us insights of deep philosophical truths. We realise increasingly that the outward appearance of things represent symbols in which a mental principle manifests on the material level. The more the third eye is developed, the more our thinking is based on a direct, inner realisation of reality. Abilities such a clairvoyance and insights into and visions of other dimensions emerge in dream or in meditation. In disharmony, people rely too much, sometimes exclusively, on their intellect and reason. As a result, people accept as truth only what they can grasp on that intellectual level. If people do have access to deeper levels, they are not able to understand the true meaning of the images perceived at those deeper levels. The images mix with one’s own ideas and fantasies, becoming so dominant in the process that one can lose all relation to reality. In case of a sub-function of the third eye, people will be open only to the outward, visible world, and their lives will be determined by material desires, physical needs and unreflected emotions. They will reject spiritual truths because they consider them as based on mere illusion and representing only nonsensical dreams without relation to reality. Their thinking is geared predominantly towards prevailing opinions. In demanding situations, such people will get forgetful. They also often have problems with their eyesight.

The seventh chakra, crown chakra (shasrara) is located at the highest point in the middle of the head, and opens upwards. Its colour is violet, also white and golden. Its physical association is the cerebrum, the related gland is the pineal gland; the astrological associations are Capricorn / Saturn and Pices / Neptune. It is symbolised by the 1000-petalled lotus. The crown chakra is the seat of the highest perfection humans can reach. It is the source and point of origin for all the other manifestations of the other chakra energies.

This very brief survey of the chakras demonstrates that their dysfunction or sub-function affects all areas of human life. If chakras absorb energies that are not conducive to their intended and balanced functioning, then the inappropriate energy blocks the chakras, prevents them from absorbing and radiating the energy they are meant to deal with, and this leads to dysfunction or subfunction. Adults can develop the ability to close their chakras against absorption of inappropriate energy. However, by definition, unlike adults, children cannot close off their chakras to prevent them from absorbing inappropriate energy. I established earlier in this article that the energy fields that form in the production process of a play for theatre, film or television with adult material are shaped and moulded by that contents. The resulting energy fields will be defined by and saturated with the energies relating to a combination of physical, emotional, and sexual violence, personal suffering and misery, and all other kinds of contents of events in life and resulting moods that we would rather like to avoid in daily life—indeed, members of many professions work hard in attempts at prevention and treatment. It stands to reason that subjecting children below the age of eighteen, who cannot close off their chakras for the purpose of self-protection, to such energy fields is highly problematic, because the energy of those fields must be assumed to be such that they will block all chakras, thus leading to a vast range of adverse effects, some of which I mentioned in the brief survey of chakras, their functions, and the symptoms of dysfunction and sub-function. This is why it is very important that parents listen to their inborn tendency to protect their children, and act accordingly.

Works cited

Billington, Michael (2008), Review of Scarborough. The Guardian, 13 February. Online at Accessed 16 August 2015.

Evans, Fiona (2008), Scarborough, London: Nick Hern.

Euripides (2008), The Trojan Women and other Plays, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Healey, Jennifer (2014), The Nether, London: Faber and Faber.

Istel, John (2005), ‘Minor Offenses’, American Theatre, 22: 8, pp.114-120.

McDonagh, Martin (2003), The Pillowman, London: Faber and Faber.

Meyer-Dinkgräfe, Daniel (2013), Observing Theatre: Spirituality and Subjectivity in the Performing Arts, Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Norris, Bruce (2007), The Pain and the Itch, London: Nick Hern.

Ott, Meredith C. (2009), ‘Child Actor Ethics: Children in Plays with Adult Themes’, MA thesis, University of Oregon. Online at,ssl&ei=TWbQVbzSI8X1aMG-gpgB. Accessed 16 August 2015.

Pirandello, Luigi (2008), Six Characters in Search of an Author. In a new version by Rupert Goold and Ben Power, London: Nick Hern.

Ridley, Philip (2005), Mercury Fur, London: Bloomsbury.

Spencer, Charles (2014), Review, The Nether. The Telegraph, 14 July. Online at Accessed 16 August 2015

Wedekind, Frank (1980), Spring Awakening. Trans. Edward Bond, London: Methuen.

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