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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Smart Halecs, March 5, 2011

Smart Halecs - On Nudity
By Robi Halecs

[ED: While Barbara Ford is casting her focus on grants forms, this week, we invited Robi Halecs, an informed and avid theatre goer, to write us an opinion piece]

We were a few minutes into the new play at the Definite Space when the very handsome young actor playing the swimming champ came out in a pair of Speedos.

My wife, Carmen, let out a long, low sigh that was far too noisy but no matter, as most of the women in the audience were making the same noise (as were a goodly number of men - remember this is theatre). The young actor had remained in just his Speedos for a long while when Carmen leaned over to me and said with sniffy impatience, "Do you think he's going to take those off?"

"So," she said as we walked, "no more nudity."

"I suspect not, especially as a good deal of the dialogue has been about his equipment - rather too much for any actor to live up to," I whispered, trying to get her to do likewise. (Always a lost cause with Carmen.)

"Well it's a pity," Carmen said as she unwrapped a throat lozenge. The lady in front of us went "tsk" and Carmen leaned forward to her and hissed, "Would you rather I spent the rest of the play coughing on the back of your neck?"

The woman shot back, "I would rather you spent the rest of the play in silence!"

Carmen, as is her wont, ignored the comment and turned back to me. "It's been a long time since someone has gone nekkid in a play, hasn't it?"

"I think theatre people have decided it's just a distraction."

"Well, I could use a little distraction right about now," she said of the play.

The woman in front finally turned about and in a quiet rage said, "If you don't like it, you stupid woman, leave! I am trying to follow the story!" Carmen thought this was a fine suggestion, gathered her coat and made for the exit. I followed her, trying to avoid the glares of those around me and the triumphant glee positively glowing on the face of the lady.

The moment we were outside and even before she had her winter coat on, Carmen was lighting a cigarette and was taking a long, deep drag like she hadn't had a fix in hours (instead of the 20 minutes since we had gone into the theatre.) "So," she said as we walked, "no more nudity."

Was it that shock value was being replaced with actual eroticism?

"For a bit. It's cyclical, I think."

She puffed angrily, "So why, exactly!, are we seeing these young actors in these tedious alternative plays if they're not going to cavort! We might as well be at Centre Theatre watching Peter Ericson trying to remember the lines of a play he did 80 years ago!" The fact is Carmen was right. There had been less nudity lately - even at the Fringe - and it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason. 

Was it that shock value of nudity was being replaced by fully-clothed eroticism? That was only true some of the time. Eroticism requires very fine actors indeed otherwise it just looks outlandish. I remember one play where a couple kissed; it should have been a charged moment but instead it looked like he was afraid she might pass him something she was eating.

Was it that the new wave of actors were, bluntly, not so new anymore and seeing the same lumps and bumps on their bodies as Carmen and I saw on ours? I mean, there was a time when alternative theatre could be counted on to be filled with gorgeous youngsters who were proud of their bodies. Now, ten years later, the same actors were using their pot-bellies and sagging breasts for comic relief - especially as the bellies were often on women and the breasts on men. Or they were using those same ravaged-by-time bodies for poignancy...which, sadly, very often doubles as comic relief. 

Or was it that sex, as a theatrical theme, was just not interesting anymore?

But, then, what about the emerging talent? The ones fresh out of acting school? I suspect that the conservatism—the "moral values"—we are seeing in the real world (more and more youngsters getting on the anti-welfare, anti-union, anti-everything bandwagon) must be an ethic shared by young actors (even though theatre has always seemed to me to be a leftist's playground). And a conservative youngster is not likely to "go nekkid" as Carmen would say. 

Or was it that sex, as a theatrical theme, was just not interesting anymore? That unless we were talking about the most bizarre, twisted, violent sexuality, theatre had moved on?

"Hey!" I said, remembering. "Equus is coming!"

"Is the director a Gay man?" she asked.

"I have no idea."

"Because you know if he's not, the little horse-poker in Equus might only be another ugly naked guy and that's just not fun."

"Well, we can hope," I said, as we plowed on through the snow.

"Don't you miss it?" she asked suddenly.

"I have you, darling," I said.

"Oh, well, yes, you do," she said. We walked home, the blizzard now lashing around us, our silence holding.

1 comment:

  1. You'll be pleased to know that, yes, Equus will feature all the nudity the script demands.


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