When we’re in a show, we have to be oh-so-very-close to our scene partners oh-so-very-soon after meeting them. As actors, we’re expected to be very comfortable with touching and being touched in any way. But the truth of the matter is that a stranger is still a stranger, and getting touched still sends off reactions in your body and mind that you have no control over. Heck, playing lovers with your best buddy as your scene partner might actually be more awkward than a complete stranger, as your mind tries to reconcile behaving romantically with your pal.
One of the first steps to creating an amazing scene of Intimacy (whether that be playing spouses, hot lovers, victim and aggressor, or any variation of “intimate contact”) is to approach touch almost clinically, outside the context of the scene. Specifically, touch that isn’t loaded with emotional context.
Practicing Touch Out-Of-Context
To practice this in a workshop context, we use an exercise in which participants ask for consent to touch their partner, and then participants invite their partner to touch, for instance, their shoulder. Just as import, is practicing granting and refusing consent, and retracting consent after it was initially given. Participants in Edmonton remarked on how empowering it was to practice this, and on how valuable it was to be reminded that you can take a second to listen to what’s comfortable for you so that you can figure out if you are actually okay with it.
It’s important to remember that there’s a difference between asking yourself to push your own boundaries, and pushing yourself beyond what’s right for you. The above exercise gives actors the opportunity to ask themselves these questions and listen to the answers from their inner guidance. In addition, practicing touch outside the context of your real life circumstance and outside the context of “I’m playing a character who has the hots for this individual in front of me (for whom I don’t really feel that way)” means that we have a moment to hear that answer, outside the chaos and sensory intensity of a rehearsal.
Intimacy For The Stage workshop this weekend!
Saturday & Sunday Novemember 12 & 13, 2016
12:00pm to 4:00pm
Theatre Ontario Boardroom
Suite 350, 401 Richmond Street West, Toronto
Price: $142.50 + HST
Equity discount: $114 + HST
Theatre Ontario Member discount: $95 + HST