Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Boys in the Buff On Stage. The Bard Would Have Approved

Male nudity on stage has had a well received reception for more than ten years.

Men getting naked during an onstage performance helps the play connect with its audience.

The lastest work to be presented with men in the buff is "Terrorism", an Off Broadway play by tghe Presnyakov Brothers, much of the male cast appearing nude.

The undressing room definitely has its supporters in the theater these days. In the last fifteen years, there have been 25 play with full frontal nudity with men's role being the overwhelming majority, 40 to 10 female roles. So what is this obsession about the male nude body performing on stage?

Some feel that the gay revolution of the 90's and so many gay authors and performers acceleratored the scope and variety of the productions. Theaters began to produce plays that took a full-frontal view of sexuality. Terrence McNally's 1994 play, "Love!,Valour!,Compassion!
exposed the lives and relationships of six gay men and contained a memorable scene in which the cast went skinny dipping.

Jame Nicola is quoted as saying, "I think you could say that gay people coming out of the closet has paralleled the arrival of the penis onstage."

Jason Butler Harner, a hot actor, has appeared nude onstage five times, including his most recent effort in Jon Robin Baitz's "Paris Letter". It fills the seats, says Harner.

Nicola says, "I think an artist who chooses to use male nudity is tring to communicate something." "And I think a penis is more theatrical."

But for some audiences, the elderly and students, male nudity is the kiss of death. So it has to be used for a target audience, one who understands and appreciates the message as presented onstage.

I recently saw the excellent play, "Take Me Out", based on a story about a ballplayer who announces after he signed a multi-year multi million dollar contract that he is gay. Baseball and the locker room and the showers. Images that go together, where ballplayers congregate most of the time off the field in the clubhouse.

"Take Me Out" has a 10 minute all-male shower scene where the players talk about their play on the field and other things. Is is necessary to tell the story? Hell yea. Why you ask? Because the play is about coming out, being excepted by your teammates, and in the nude, the players bare not only their bodies but their souls.

A very graphic scene later on involves the gay baseball star and the player who is homophobic.
The gay player confronts the homophobe who is showering. The gay player both shows his masculinity and puts the homophobe in his place as he tackles the guy in the showers, knocks him to the floor and holds him down, showing him that he isn't going to take any more shit from him. Being the top guy, the gay player portrays his dominance over the homophobe. This positioning is key to showing that the gay player is equal to his teammates.

Without the nudity, "Take Me Out" wouldn't have the same impact. So if you enjoy gay theater and male nudity, check out "Take Me Out" and the other gay male musical revues touring the country. Prime beef never looked or acted so good.

1 comment:

Thom said...

I agree with you 100% about Take Me Out. The extended nudity was also an integral part of the story. Without it, the message of the play wouldn't have been communicated as effectively. (Plus, it was also nice to look at!)