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28th September, 2021

Guildhall School partners with School of Sexuality Education on programme for Acting staff and students about consent, sexual violence and bystander intervention

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Delivered in partnership with the award-winning School of Sexuality Education, this comprehensive and pioneering training, for academic year 2021/22, will be evidence-based, trauma-informed, trans-inclusive and intersectional.

The workshops are part of a wider programme of training and reflection undertaken by the Drama Department since July 2020, which aims to embed progressive industry practice into the School’s Acting training and prioritises inclusivity, representation, anti-racist practice and wellbeing in all areas, from repertoire to pedagogy. 

Today’s announcement coincides with the launch of a significantly revised new BA (Hons) Acting programme, developed over the last two years under the leadership of Vice-Principal & Director of Drama Orla O’Loughlin and in consultation with staff, students, alumni and industry experts. The new programme was described by the revalidation panel as “a beacon of excellence” for the sector, introducing reflective practice and ethical self-led practice into the core Acting curriculum. 

Guildhall School’s Vice-Principal & Director of Drama Orla O’Loughlin said 

Ongoing incidents of sexual misconduct within the theatre, TV and film industries further highlight the urgent need to be proactive in ensuring that we all have a clear understanding of consent within our sector and the wider world.

We’re deeply grateful to the School of Sexuality Education for bringing their experience and expertise to our Acting programme. Their rights-based, sex-positive, non-binary, trauma-informed approach will create invaluable space for our staff and students to reflect, learn and evolve. This work is a vital part of the ongoing culture change within the Drama Department.”

The School of Sexuality Education said “Testimonies from survivors of sexual violence – including #metoo and #Everyone’sInvited – have long demonstrated the need for culture change around consent and sexual violence within educational institutions and the entertainment industry. We are pleased to have been invited by the Drama Department at Guildhall School to support with staff training and student workshops as part of the School’s wider commitment to developing a more consent-based practice and improving prevention and response to sexual violence.”

Details of the School of Sexuality Education programme for Acting students and staff

Staff training aims to support teaching staff in: challenging sexual violence myths; understanding and practicing ethical and legal consent both within and outside of the rehearsal room; consent-based practice (creating a culture of consent in personal, educational and professional spaces e.g. the rehearsal room, auditions, intimate scenes and/or photography); actively bystanding when harm is witnessed; responding to disclosures of sexual violence; process when students enact sexual violence. 

A smaller number of core staff will also receive training on trauma-informed practice and skills in facilitating conversations about consent in the rehearsal room.

Workshops for students aim to support students in: challenging sexual violence myths; understanding and practicing ethical and legal consent both within and outside of the rehearsal room; information about internal and external support available when sexual violence happens. Later in the year students will also take part in Bystander Intervention workshops where they will explore community responsibility and solidarity when sexual harassment and/or violence is witnessed and practice a number of techniques to safely intervene.

This sustained programme adds to the training in Anti-Racist Practice delivered by Gail Babb and training in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Unconscious Bias and Creating Inclusive Environments delivered by Tonic Theatre to Acting staff over the last year. It is underpinned by fortnightly reflective sessions for Acting staff facilitated by expert group analysts and support provided by Guildhall’s Equality and Wellbeing Associates (Drama), Mumba Dodwell and Jessica Murrain. The Equality and Wellbeing Associates (Drama) are dynamic and evolving freelance roles with a focus on supporting and empowering students within the Acting Programme to share agency in creating an anti-racist culture at Guildhall.

In the last year, Guildhall School has worked to strengthen its processes in handling reports of sexual violence, reviewing the School’s complaints procedure to ensure it is as transparent as possible, and launching an anonymous microaggressions portal to track and address any emergent patterns of behaviour. The School’s Production Arts, Music and Research faculties will also be offering training in consent and anti-sexual violence, working with different providers in order to respond to specific departmental contexts. Support for all students, including in-house counselling, is available via the School’s Student Affairs Department.


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