WHEN God created woman, he wasn’t thinking of their box office potential in the theater. But that’s how it seems on stage these days.
There are some things in the world for which you need a strong stomach to digest. One of the top leading things in this category is the Nude Theater.
In essence, Nude Theater, is a normal theatrical show, with actors, a plot line, sounds, lighting; the only difference is that all actors present on stage are Nude (no costumes at all –bare they are).
But is onstage nudity really still such a big deal? After all, we live in an era when people have sex on reality television shows, sometimes in a room full of multiple couples having sex simultaneously (hello, Love Island), a time when dating shows exist in which mates are chosen based solely on their natural bodies (if close-up shots of genitalia are not your cup of tea, so to speak, then perhaps avoid the show Naked Attraction), not forgetting that some of the most famous actors of the moment have stripped off in the name of art as they make the leap from screen to stage (think Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, Kit Harington in Doctor Faustus). And yet, there is still something slightly surprising about being confronted with such explicit nakedness in real life. Right in front of you. Quite literally under the spotlight.
The first time I remember being aware of nudity in the theater (FYI, we’re obviously talking full frontal here – long gone are the days when the appearance of breasts or behinds were shocking enough to make a memorable mark) was during my drama class in School when my teacher introduced us to Nude Theater by showing us Cabaret. The frivolity and sobriety of the past 90 minutes or so came to a jolting finish when the cast returned to the stage stripped of their clothes, as the curtain came down to the hissing sound of gas. The audience’s embarrassed giggles at the sight of the actors’ nether regions were abruptly reduced into shocked silence at the realization of the implication – of concentration camps, gas chambers and impending death. Of humanity at its most exposed and vulnerable. The impact was undeniable. And the nudity was vital to it.
The other purpose is, naturally, humour. In a recent run of Terry Johnson’s early Nineties comedy Dead Funny, Rufus Jones – as Richard, the oxymoronically uptight president of a comedy society – received a naked, erotic massage by his (fully clothed) onstage wife, Katherine Parkinson, in a hilarious and agonizing scene.
Fortunately onstage nudity – particularly male nudity – often invokes laughter in an audience. A laugh of embarrassment, surprise, nervousness. These are all very comic themes too, so it seems that comedy and nudity are happy bedfellows.
It also came as a complete shock for the audience – when someone takes their clothes off on stage, the evening suddenly feels intensely live and present tense. The stakes are quite high. Theater is often quite a passive experience, so getting your willy out is a good way of getting people to lean in.
Interestingly, the viewing age doesn’t necessarily preempt the reaction that you might expect. Younger audiences are generally more shocked rather than matinees – traditionally an older crowd – who in contrast love the nudity. Gales of cackling.
Nude Theater is a very real thing and like sex and other issues this also exists with us. If you get a chance be sure to watch a show. We promise you’ll definitely enjoy it. 🙂
Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress ~ John Berger