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  • Writer's picturepgracemiles

No. 90 Intimacy Direction

Romance and Passion - We All Love to Watch

“Maybe strippers get real used to it,” she said recently in her dressing room at the Broadhurst Theater, “but for me, there’s nothing normal about that. So there’s nowhere in my mind that I can drift off and let this just kind of happen because everything about it is demanding that you be present.” -- Audra McDonald in the NYT article How Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon get Intimate.

As an actor, I have never experienced anything getting out of hand on stage. Any scenes I performed that were at all sexual in nature or required me to undress the director handled with great care, and I felt respected.

I have witnessed other actors, primarily women, feel violated by the expectations of the director or an inappropriate action taken by another actor during performances when there is nothing they can do about it.

I once overheard a male director convince a woman to take her top off during a scene by using Madonna’s willingness to undress on stage as an ideal to mimic. On opening night, she walked off stage after the scene and wept in my arms. I still regret that I didn’t try to talk her out of doing it while we were in the rehearsal process. It is not always easy for a young actor to say no to a director’s unsavory expectations. At least it wasn’t when I was in my 20’s.

Today after the #MeToo movement it is an imperative. You are not only taking care of yourself, but you are taking care of the other men and women in the room.

The NYT article talks about a new field of training for theatre, film, and television -- intimacy directing.

The website Intimacy Directors International names five pillars for rehearsal and performance - Context, Content, Communication, Choreography, and Closure. They say, “Need a certified intimacy professional for your project? We’re here to assist.”

There are so many areas of theatre education that require certification and training. In most instances, it is just a racket for teachers to make money teaching teachers to make money teaching teachers. However, the field of intimacy directing is urgently overdue.

The NYT article describes specific examples of how this work changes the rehearsal process for the better.

As a supporter of new writing, when I heard that Broadway was putting F & J back on stage, I was disappointed. This article changed my mind. Artistic vulnerability in performance is necessary and powerful. Now has gone mainstream and can be safe for everyone involved.

Intimacy Directing ties into my previous blog about codes of conduct and behavior for non-equity theaters. Read it here:

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