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Britain may put limits on school-play kisses

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LONDON — You must remember this: A kiss is just a kiss. Unless, of course, it's in a British school play.

New guidelines drafted by the National Assembly for Wales say that teachers should remove romantic scenes involving intimate physical contact from school plays.

According to these guidelines, which could soon be extended to all of Britain, love scenes between students should stop at a peck on the cheek to protect youngsters from abuse.

But some drama experts fear the guidelines may become the kiss of death for some of the most memorable scenes in the most popular school plays.

For example, they fear that Romeo's kissing of Juliet to seal their love might become a light brushing of the lips against a cheek or even a simple hug.

The swaggering Petruchio might have to go without a smooch from Katharina in "The Taming of the Shrew."

Even in more recent plays such as "West Side Story," lovestruck teenagers Tony and Maria might have to make do with nothing but a chaste caress.

Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for Britain's National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, charged that the government has developed a habit of banning everything that can be considered even slightly politically incorrect, "and this is not serving pupils well."

"If schools are assessing and monitoring teaching correctly as they are required to do, they will pick up on any inappropriate behavior by teachers," she said.

The new guidelines grew out of a review of drama instruction that was recommended following allegations of child abuse at a Welsh high school.

That case involved a drama teacher who apparently used his classes as a means of sexually abusing his students.

If the guidelines are approved — a vote will come shortly after a consultation period ends in April — drama teachers would also be banned from photographing or filming any part of a performance, rehearsal, or lesson without written permission from students' parents.

Teachers also could be asked to censor scripts in order to remove bad language and sexually explicit scenes.

Britain's Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will consider whether to adopt the guidelines in England once they have been considered by the National Assembly in Wales.