12 APRIL 1940, Page 3

Decency on the Stage

The conference next week between representatives of the Lord Chamberlain and the London County Council on the subject of decency—or more properly indecency—on the stage can only lead to effective results if theatrical managers and promoters are called into the discussion and their co- operation frankly sought. There is no satisfactory definition of indecency, and though at one end of the scale there are performances which are obviously and manifestly decent and at the other performances of which the reverse is as certainly true, there exists a wide intermediate field in which the decision as to what is and is not undesirable is to a large extent a matter of individual taste. Nudity is no evil in itself, but it can be so treated as to make it a very real evil. It is not satisfactory that girls should be induced by economic pressure to expose as much of their bodies as possible, nor that audiences should be attracted by the prospect of seeing as much nudity on the stage as the law permits. But the difficulty of tightening up the law by giving it greater definition is considerable, and the difficulty of securing con- victions under more rigorous legislation might be no less. But moral laxity is not an imaginary evil, and it is a special danger in war-time. The need, therefore, is the greater for the creation of a wholesome—which does not mean a prudish or narrow-minded—public opinion in this matter, in some provincial centres more than in London. So-called " strip- tease " turns are open to more objection than so-called nudity. So is much of the dialogue heard in music-halls.