Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why I'll Never Write a Nude Scene ... again ... probably.

Sometime ago I attended the premiere of a play written by a friend of mine. Between acts I was outside, furiously trying to inhale an entire cigarette with one mighty suck (my last cigarette, by the way. I quit.). Being properly ostracized from politically correct (and condescending) society, I overheard this slip of conversation:

She: I’d do nudity if it was a good role and the play absolutely depended on it.
He: Lemme know when, so I can buy a ticket.

The event that prompted this exchange was a brief bathing scene in the second Act of my friend’s play. As an homage to modesty (or more likely to keep the theatre from being closed by city council members looking for any excuse) the “nude” scene was performed by a somewhat pudgy actress in a flesh-colored body suit. As you may well imagine, she looked like a hundred and thirty pounds of potatoes stuffed into a hundred pound bag.

Now I’m not in the least suggesting that women have any kind of monopoly where a marked lack of discernment is concerned. What prompted this memory – and this present discourse – was a conversation I had with a male actor friend, just a few days ago. In this conversation my friend was looking forward to auditioning for a production of THE FULL MONTY (male nudity.)

Soon – in brutal honesty, the play may come to town. My friend may audition. He may be cast. He may perform brilliantly. I will never know. I plan to be out of town during the run. I may be out of the state. I’m not kidding you, nobody’s stomach is that strong.

All this cognition leads to a couple of true-isms. These are not moral or religious judgments, but the results of common sense and 20/20 vision.

First. I’ve not done a tremendous amount of research in this area, but it’s my impression that most people – actors included – probably look better with clothes on than they would look with clothes off. This conclusion was reached after spending a fair amount of my social life in a McDonalds when the lights were on.

And then, there’s another side to this problem (or perhaps it’s the other side.) A number of years ago I wrote a nude sequence into one of my plays … (See? There is a point I’m trying to make after all. You just had to be patient.) I wanted to depict one character in the play as being totally dependent on another for everything, down to and including air for breathing. It’s not a pretty scene, nor is it intended to be, and it is very – very – focused. I eventually re-wrote the scene. The lady in the body suit, even if it works, is not what I envisioned. And the “let me know when you’re naked and I’ll buy a ticket” idea is infantile.

So I feel inclined to tell you, friend, that I do not favor censorship. But in the future I’ll most likely avoid including nudity in my work. It’s my fervent wish for you to see what I see, feel what I feel, and in the way I see and feel it. If you don’t or can’t, then it doesn’t matter if my imagery was correct or not. I failed.

1 comment:

Julie Morrison said...

I've been thinking about this a lot more lately. It's unnerving to have the kind of power that directs people to be nude... To whom much is given much will be required. I think we can always get away without nudie scenes, because until movies we did.