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The Bard in the buff

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 01:35

An all-female cast performs Shakespeare's Tempest nude in a New York park. Rough cut (no reporter narration)

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Shakespeare gets stripped down to celebrate body freedom and free expression. The Torn Out Theater company of New York has teamed up with The Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society for an all-female nude production of 'The Tempest.' The idea behind the show is to use storytelling and theater to get its message of body positivity heard. "It's an interesting thing to feel like I'm not only making a statement as an actor, getting to play an amazing part. But I'm making a statement as a woman about female sexuality, female nudity and really trying to normalize that and make it nonsexual and nonthreatening. People are naked, this is my body, that's her body, that's body and they look different and they're all beautiful," said Gina Marie Russell, who plays Prospero. While it may seem awkward at first, director Pitr Strait said things felt normal pretty fast. "Even I was kind of nervous the first rehearsal and then within minutes I was like, this is normal. So normal that when we had an actor come on in clothes she looked strange," said Strait. The production company needed no permits to perform fully nude, since nudity while performing is covered under New York State law. For many of the actress, the chance to bare all for art was liberating. "It was sort of like you could feel like a new chapter turning. The whole cast kind of felt that, and me in my life, specifically," said North Carolina native Reanna Roane. "The first time was a nice gentle easy process into performing nude. We had nude rehearsals, we had a lot of cast building rehearsals to build camaraderie and things like that. So that by the time the show actually came I didn't really care about nude or what people would think. It felt really second nature," added Roane, who said she is now a better actress because of the experience. Some have called the production a gimmick, but Strait said it was all been thought out carefully. "Some people are a little weirded out, which is to be expected. We knew that the show was going to shake things up and make people question certain things." The reimagined play brought out a variety of people, creating somewhat of an intersection of all the different people in New York. "We get a lot of curious people. For the most part the response has been really loving and really giving. What someone might think of someone being a creeper is really just someone going, 'oh, I've never really seen that before," said Roane. The group just ended its second set of performances in Brooklyn's Prospect Park on September 10, with hopes to add more performances in the future.

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The Bard in the buff

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 01:35