Intimacy directors: those new service sector jobs

by on August 8, 2017 at 12:14 am in Education, The Arts, Uncategorized | Permalink

…the theater and film industry are beginning to recognize the need for “intimacy directors,” people who specialize in choreographing onstage intimacy.

They are practitioners who use concrete guidelines and techniques, such as the “four pillars” of intimacy direction, according to Alicia Rodis, a member of Intimacy Directors International.

Consent: Get the performers’ permission — including concrete boundaries and out of bounds body parts, and do it before you start.

Communication: Keep talking throughout the process. What’s working, what’s not, who’s touching who and how and do they feel safe.

Choreography: Performers wouldn’t spontaneously add an extra pirouette to a dance number or an extra kick to a fight scene. Don’t add an ass grab or extra kissing.

Context: Just because you kiss someone in one scene doesn’t mean you can kiss them in another scene without communicating about adjusting the choreography and seeking consent to do so. Just because someone is topless with you on stage, it doesn’t mean they won’t mind being topless around you offstage, or in another scene onstage.

To explore the ideas of intimacy and safety on stage in a variety of situations, LEO spoke with Rodis, as well as Tony Prince, a local director; and Sarah Flanagan, a Louisville-based fight director.

And:

Rodis, the New York intimacy director, started as a fight director, and that led to her new focus. She shared one experience from that evolution.

“There was one show I was working on where there was a woman who slapped the man and then kissed him. So I was brought in for the slap.”

She ended up working on the slap and the kiss. For that kiss, she used her stage combat skills. That included asking standard questions like where do the actors touch each other, and new questions like how long does the kiss last?

Here is the full story, via Catherine Rampell.

1 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 12:57 am

Which is interestingly matched with this LA Weekly article, which is considerably less coquettish, starting with its title, ‘Rape Choreography Makes Films Safer, But Still Takes a Toll on Cast and Crew’ http://www.laweekly.com/film/how-actors-and-filmmakers-cope-with-enacting-rape-on-screen-8415330

Because strangely enough, much of ‘How a kiss is not a kiss, and punches are pulled in acting’ is also about portraying rape and abuse.

‘Onstage intimacy and fighting have a lot in common. In fact, many intimacy directors started in stage combat.

Flanagan, the local fight director, described steps to make fights safe.

—————————————————

Rodis, the New York intimacy director, started as a fight director, and that led to her new focus. She shared one experience from that evolution.’

There is something rotten at the very core of much contemporary American drama, whether film or theater, but as the article points out, ‘Rodis and her group aren’t alone in doing intimacy direction, but Sina was just featured in The New York Times for her work, and that’s about as official a stamp of approval as you can get in the American theater scene.’

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2 Humean Being August 8, 2017 at 1:00 am

The degree of specialization and exchange in evidence here is pretty incredible.

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3 msgkings August 8, 2017 at 1:14 am

+100, Thread winner, already.

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4 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 1:14 am

Actually, not really – essentially, since rape/violence has become a more common part of American film/theater, and since stage fighting can be dangerous (and a real problem to the bottom line when done incorrectly), the need to stage manage what a VCU student so coyly called ‘“intimacy choreography” arises, along with the typical American skill at picking a convincing term for a repugnant reality. After all, who wants to work as a ‘rape choreographer’ or found ‘Rape Directors International’?

The article, and Prof. Cowen quite possibly, seems to feel that what is going on is something separate from managing scenes that often contain violence as part of ‘intimacy.’ Framing matters – that is why it worth repeating that those involved in “intimacy choreography” whose history is described all started in choreographing stage fighting. And how in modern American, their work revolves mainly around violence or abuse, with a growing number of people seemingly confusing that with ‘intimacy.’

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5 msgkings August 8, 2017 at 1:15 am

You gotta lot of hangups, son. Damn bruh.

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6 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 1:21 am

If you say so – that LA Weekly article was my first introduction to the subject (my experience in theater is pretty tangential, coming from GMU in the later 1980s).

And being from LA, of course it lacks the imprimatur of the NYT. This paragraph, though, was fairly illuminating – ‘While narratives of sexual assault are nothing new — everything from early Old West films to the various Renaissance-era depictions of The Rape of the Sabine Women and Japan’s 19th-century ukiyo-e prints (an art form that influenced anime today) depicts gendered violence — these storylines have become particularly common in film and TV lately. In the last few years, there’s a laundry list of media involving rape: The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, The Magicians, The Revenant, The Salesman, The Birth of a Nation, Nocturnal Animals, The Innocents, Don’t Breathe, Palo Alto, Jamestown, Room and even Your Highness. The list goes on and on. Some of the rape storylines tell us something new and pertinent, such as Paul Verhoeven’s film Elle, in which sexual assault is a defining moment that is the central core of the narrative. Some do not, like Game of Thrones, which — like the 1970s Italian giallo shock films — seems to use rape as a way to get naked women (and men) on screen.’

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7 msgkings August 8, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Yep, I say so.

8 Thor August 8, 2017 at 3:15 am

In Prior’s world, where intimacy means rape…

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9 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 8:19 am

From the cited article, detailing the intimacy work done by a local director – ‘As an example, he cited a difficult scene he worked on in a recent play, “The Nether.” This play involved scenes that implied a grown man having a sexual, violent relationship with a young girl.’ Whether that meets your standards for intimacy is for you to decide, it would seem.

I realize that reading the linked article is difficult for some, even when Prof. Cowen highlights one person who found their place in ‘intimacy’ work – ‘Rodis, the New York intimacy director, started as a fight director, and that led to her new focus. She shared one experience from that evolution.

“There was one show I was working on where there was a woman who slapped the man and then kissed him. So I was brought in for the slap.”’

The LA Weekly article is much less squeamish about where such professionals come from, expanding into this newly defined area after learning their skills by choreographing violence, as in Prof. Cowen’s own (now repeatedly) highlighted example.

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10 Hazel Meade August 8, 2017 at 8:24 am

And some people claim Germans have a sense of humor.

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11 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 8:37 am

I’m not German, and as noted above, my introduction last month to this subject was titled ‘Rape Choreography Makes Films Safer, But Still Takes a Toll on Cast and Crew’

But if you wish to call me a humorless American here, please, be my guest

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12 Jeff R August 8, 2017 at 9:46 am

Most of us just think you’re kind of a loser, regardless of nationality.

13 Anon August 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Prior, I have no idea why your posts provoked such hostility. The LA Weekly article supports your observations.

14 anonymous as usual August 8, 2017 at 10:36 pm

I have no idea who …….
“prior 3” is but is it not …….
inarguable …….
that entertainment in any civilization can be flawed …….
and that entertainment in ours (yes, ours, not yours, ours) …….
should be criticized when clearly amoral and clearly unkind?

15 rayward August 8, 2017 at 7:16 am

Cowen wouldn’t be suggesting that a few commenters at this blog need some lessons in “intimacy”, would he? With Fifty Shades of Grey and President Trump intimacy has taken on an entirely new meaning.

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