Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



WINTER THEATER SPECIAL Up close and personal: Intimacy design in February productions
by Mary Shen Barnidge

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The myth of actors losing sight of the boundaries between their own personalities and those of their characters is exactly that—a fiction born of sensational fancy. Reflexive behavior forged over centuries of evolution is not always consciously governed, however, leading to special training for theater artists whose duties include creating low-risk illusions of corporal combat.

So how did so many other types of behavior likewise come to require referees? As audiences demanded increasingly realistic depictions of extravagant emotions, Intimacy Design was implemented to ensure a similar degree of safety during the execution of the beanbag-wrestling that playwrights too often confuse with romantic passion.

This February offers Chicago theatergoers the opportunity to view this often-misunderstood skill as it is practiced today: Broken Nose Theater's Chicago premiere production of Stephen Spotswood's Girl In The Red Corner ( fight design by John Tovar, direction by Elizabeth Laidlaw ), followed by Raven Theatre's revival of Paula Vogel's How I Learned To Drive ( intimacy design by Rachel Flesher-she, her, hers ) and finally, First Floor Theater's world premiere of Dan Giles' Mike Pence Sex Dream ( fight/intimacy design by Micah Figueroa-he/him ).

Windy City Times: Girl in The Red Corner is about a woman who achieves self-esteem through mixed-martial arts, How I Learned to Drive is about a teenage girl and her uncle who forge a quasi-sexual relationship and Mike Pence Sex Dream is about a gay man whose work life conflicts trigger bizarre nocturnal fantasies. Intimacy design isn't just sex and violence, though.

John Tovar: [Red Corner] doesn't involve intimacy in terms of sex, and sports violence is carefully regulated, but it still involves lots of body-to-body contact.

Rachel Flesher: "Intimacy" references familiarity, and vulnerability. This includes grief, shock, trauma, births, medical exams, nursing infants, nudity—virtually any kind of bodily function.

Micah Figueroa: Many scripted situations outside of explicit sex or violence need an intimacy designer, if only for consultation—depictions of active power dynamics, for example, even those without touching. Our play [Mike Pence] contains moments when actors are minimally dressed, or need to change their clothes, or engage in special effects involving their bodies. Anything that might put them in an uncomfortable position should be looked at.

WCT: One technique employed in stage combat to discourage actors from getting carried away on the adrenaline is to repeat the sequences until the novelty wanes, while another is to encourage group socializing outside rehearsal to take everybody out of "let's pretend" mode. Do Intimacy rehearsals utilize similar tactics?

RF: If the human body is replicating the shapes used in aggression and survival, it can react with the appropriate biochemical mechanisms, making for real-life responses to imaginary circumstances. Without some kind of closure to remind actors that there is a separation between themselves and their characters, this can lead to confusion.

MF: "Closers" can be anything that a performer associates with the end of the scene—an offstage sweet treat, a cup of tea, a stretch, a secret handshake. The purpose is to celebrate the conclusion of a difficult task.

Elizabeth Laidlaw: The important thing is to create a rehearsal atmosphere where everyone feels safe and heard. We are collaborators and co-workers, regardless of how much contact everyone has after they leave the room.

WCT: Preparation is paramount, obviously, but playgoers see only the results. What should audiences look for in well-executed intimacy design?

JT: The actors telling the story of the play in a consensual manner based in the needs of the script.

RF: Good intimacy design should always further the story. Every moment should reveal character intent.

MF: In real life, you know immediately when someone is uncomfortable in a situation. It's in their bodies—tense shoulders, clipped speech, wavering eye contact, feet turned in the opposite direction. These same non-verbal cues are present in faulty design and end up looking like faulty storytelling. Bad fight/intimacy design is easy to detect, but the good kind is almost impossible to recognize. You might talk afterward about how the intimate scenes made you feel, but if the intimacy was staged right, you probably would never think that a designer was necessary!

Girl in the Red Corner is slated to open Monday, Feb. 4 at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave; visit . How I Learned to Drive is scheduled to start Monday, Feb. 11, at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St.; see . Mike Pence Sex Dream is slated to open Wed., Feb. 20, at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.; visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

THEATER The Music Man 2019-07-20 - Author: Meredith Wilson ( book, music & lyrics ) At: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets: 312-443-3800;; $25-$142. Runs through: Aug. 18 ...

Gay News

About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble'sm20th Anniversary: 20/20 2019-07-19 - CHICAGO — The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the world premiere of 20/20, an exhilarating dive into ...

Gay News

Sideshow Theatre Company 2019-20 season to premiere X, Pro-Am 2019-07-18 - CHICAGO ( July 17, 2019 ) — Sideshow Theatre Company is pleased to announce its 2019-20 Season, launching this fall with the U.S. ...

Gay News

Goodman Theatre announces 2019/2020 season 2019-07-18 - ( Chicago, IL ) Goodman Theatre announces the casting and creative teams for its 2019/2020 "Theater That Moves" Season openers. The season kicks-off ...

Gay News

THEATER True West 2019-07-17 - Playwright: Sam Shepard At: Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Tickets: Runs through: Aug. 25 What is the "true west?" Deserts ...

Gay News

First Floor Theater to begin Season 8 with Sugar in Our Wounds 2019-07-17 - By Donja R. Love, Directed by FFT Company Member Mikael Burke, October 19, 2019 - November 23, 2019 On a plantation during ...

Gay News

Promethean's 14th season to explore status of women, societies past, imagined 2019-07-17 - The rights and roles of women in society will be examined in Promethean Theatre Ensemble's 2019-20 season via three plays all penned or ...

Gay News

Barrel of Monkeys Presents Free Summer Workshops, Performances 2019-07-17 - CHICAGO ( July 16, 2019 ) — Barrel of Monkeys, one of Chicago's leaders in arts education, will present free creative writing workshops ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Wolf Play 2019-07-17 - Playwright: Hansol Jung At: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, Chicago. Tickets: Runs through: Aug 18 The Gift Theatre's midwest premiere ...

Gay News

THEATER Strange Heart Beating 2019-07-16 - Playwright: Kristin Idaszak At: Cloudgate Theatre at the Frontier, 1106 W. Thorndale Ave. Tickets:; $5-$45. Runs through: July 28 There's potential for ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.