Catholic morality in theater?

So I am in a theatre program that I applied to back before I was Catholic.
As some of you may know, the theatre world is not loving towards religion and religious restrictions.

I am not going to pursue theatre after this program is over. There are too many I may be asked to do on stage that are wrong; it’s simply too risky. But my question is, what do I do for now?

For instance, if I am in a play (the program guarantees that everyone will act in at least one play) and I am asked to wear a dress that shows cleavage, or play a character that takes the name of the Lord in vain, or do things like kissing on stage - what on earth do I do?

I have heard so many people tell me (mostly of non-religious origin) that I should just do whatever on stage because it is acting, not me myself doing these things. I’m not sure I agree.

The good news is, the last play of the season (the one I am most likely going to be in) is The Tempest. There is not too much about it that is likely to be immoral; except crossdressing. Since the company is mainly girls and the play is mainly boys, most of the characters will be crossdressing.
So is it sinful to crossdress on stage? What if I don’t have much of a choice? I could theoretically drop the play, but then I would have to explain that to my anti-Catholic mother who paid for the program (paid a lot). I don’t see much of a way out. So if that happens to be a thing, would that mean it is at least not a mortal sin, since I did not fully consent?

I’ve heard people interpret that the thing against crossdressing is that it’s like lying; it’s the intention to deceive. It’s also the intention of trying to uproot your place in life and pass yourself off as something else. So if that’s it, then maybe crossdressing for theatre isn’t wrong at all.

Or if by some chance I am cast as a girl and that girl wears an immodest dress (most historical dresses are ok, so I guess the chances are low, but I have still seen quite a few that reveal much too much of the chestal area), do I just wear it and go along, or do I complain? I’ve been worrying and worrying about this since the program began, and I just don’t know what to do.

Don’t be silly. You’re fine. It’s theater. You won’t lead anyone astray by doing the things you described above. Relax and enjoy your time onstage.


Ditto. :popcorn:

Oh dear, that scares me. How much controversy is there over this?

While I understand your concern, I think you’ve inflated it out of proportion. When they make movies of the old testament, was the man that played pharaoh sinning? Pilate? Judas? The woman at the well? While the overall end of the story was good, they were playing incredibly wicked people.

You certainly shouldn’t be expected to expose yourself but otherwise, it’s not you that you’re playing.

It’s called travesti and it has been notoriously usual in the history of theatre, sometimes even motivated by religious reasons.

I really don’t understand this kind of scrupulosity. Theatre is about playing roles, which means pretending that you are another person. Would you say that an actor who plays the role of another person is lying?? Or that representing a fictional story with fictional characters is lying??

Those sorts of things would be fine.

The good news is, the last play of the season (the one I am most likely going to be in) is The Tempest. There is not too much about it that is likely to be immoral; except crossdressing. Since the company is mainly girls and the play is mainly boys, most of the characters will be crossdressing.

That’s what you’re worried about with the Tempest? :ehh: I’d much sooner expect objection to some of the characters using magic. Most people will say cross-dressing for theatre is fine, although you’ll get less support if it’s a guy playing a girls’ role. Although it doesn’t sound like that’ll be the case.

Not much, I don’t think. :popcorn: is just our way of saying “I don’t have anything to say right now, but I definitely want to see how the discussion goes”

*Greek, Roman, and Shakespearean theatre. (And then some) Actresses are a fairly new development.
*Peter Pan. It’s convention to cross-cast the titular role.
*Comedy/satire. When I was considering arranging a group of friends to sing One Day More for a talent show, I also considering cross-casting Mme. Thenadier.
*Young roles. Either actually something like possibly cross-casting Gavroche or similarly aged roles. Or in animation, it’s really common to have an actress for preteen boys. Examples including Timmy Turner, Ben Tennison, and Dil Pickles all being the same actress, or Tommy Pickles also being voiced by a woman.

I was worried about the magic for a bit, but I think most of it is metaphorical and it comes out with a moral in the end. It was, after all, written and widely viewed in the middle of a highly religious Europe, so I don’t know how literally it was meant to be seen when it comes to the fates and such.

You’re right though, maybe I’m just blowing some things out of proportion. I’ve always had some issues with perspective…

OK! Your words are chewing at me!

1.) Theater schools ARE weird at times, Catholic or not, but don’t pop all that weirdness in one box and call it theater. I had a teacher in acting school that wanted us to do his scenes naked so we could "let go of our inhibitions"l. His son said we did not have to do this and that his dad was just a dirty old man since he mostly asked the females to do his acting exercise. I stayed through the whole program and avoided witnessing or participating in disrobing.

2.) I have looked for theaters, directors, and companies that I would enjoy working with. Look around. The good stuff exists. Read and identify good plays. Open your mind. Not every theater is trash.

3.) Start a Catholic or Christian drama group for youth or adults. Imagine what you could do.

4.) Read about Jim Caviezel and his acting career. Read about Rosalind Russell. Debbie Reynolds, Alec Guinness, the list is long. Get inspired. Don’t cut your talents short. God gave you these talents to develop and share.

5.) Look for other Christian performers (and there are many!) and start your own company.

6.) Try to do “The Tempest”; it’s difficult to get experience doing Shakespeare. Do as much Shakespeare and repertory as you can, even if you are just a spear carrier, Servant #4, or Third Fairy on the left.

7.) Find a good acting coach who understands your values.

8.) And do get a day job or some means to pay your bills in between theater jobs. Learn some back-up skills or start a business that allows you to have some freedom in choosing jobs. The greater problem in theater is that a lot of paying gigs just aren’t very good and some are ridiculous.

Another example I thought of for cross-casting. Not so much for actual performance, but it’s entirely possible to need to cross-play a role in rehearsal. What if you know a part insanely well and can use that knowledge to help someone practice? For instance, I know most of the songs in Les Mis, and have sung Eponine before. (Some friends were singing the Finale, and I was jumping around covering whatever parts they weren’t. I wound up as Valjean, Marius and Eponine)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit