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UK Theatres Ban “Ladies And Gentlemen” Phrase

Under new gender-neutral rules, audiences in UK theatres will no longer hear the phrase ‘ladies and gentlemen’.

The Actors’ Union Equity also states that performers should not have ‘backhanded compliments’ or be described as ‘brave’.


Published last week, the advice is aimed at people and venues working with LGBT performers.

Campaigners for LGBT rights say that such phrases as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ exclude people who do not identify as male or female, but rather as non-binary, such as singer Sam Smith.

Equity’s guide also advises against compliments on ‘appearance, clothing, voice, quality, identity or the performer being brave’, the Sunday Times reports.

Sam Smith identifies as gender non-binary (neither male nor female) | Photo: Forbes

Following the publication of the guide, the National Theatre pledged to phase out ‘ladies and gentlemen’, while the Royal Shakespeare Company said it would, ‘strive to create environments which welcome and support trans people and people who identify their gender as fluid’.

Meanwhile, Nica Burns, co-owner of Nimax Theatre, said:

‘Coming to the theatre is a shared and communal experience in one single auditorium and we want to please our audience and give them a great evening. We wouldn’t want anyone to feel offended or annoyed.’

The guidelines follow on from a series of high-profile productions featuring gender-fluid interpretations in recent years.

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