Listen: Let’s Talk About Sex Onstage

Gordon Cox

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The craft of intimacy direction is taking Broadway by storm — and on the latest episode of Variety’s Stagecraft, Broadway’s first intimacy director explains why, and breaks down the ways in which she’s helping to revolutionize how actors get intimate onstage.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

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Warden, whose credits this season include “Jagged Little Pill,” “Slave Play” and “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” said she considers herself part of a show’s design team, and likens intimacy direction to fight direction.

“It is the craft of creating the scenes and the illusion of sex and sexuality on a kind of parallel [as] with violence,” she said. “We create the illusion of violence, but the actors aren’t actually enacting violence on each other. We create the illusion of sex and sexuality without the actors actually having sex with each other.”

The process serves as advocacy for actors, allowing them to choose what happens to their bodies onstage and what is seen of them, and at the same time creates protocols that can guide an entire company — cast, crew and creatives — in a safe approach to scenes of intimacy.

“It’s not about making actors comfortable,” Warden noted. “A lot of the work we do [as actors] is deeply uncomfortable, and that’s why we’re doing it. But it is about … creating a structure where we know how to have this conversation that is inclusive, that is respectful, that is deep and considering all aspects, so that we can create something that the actors have complete confidence in — what story is being told, what their part in it is, what’s going to go happen — so that they can be free in it to do their best work.”

Also on the new Stagecraft, Warden talked the impact of #MeToo, the thousand stories in a handshake and why she prefers the term “brave space” over “safe space.”

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple PodcastsStitcher or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

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