How I learned to stop worrying and love the nudity

This past Sunday, we ran the show for the first time with full costumes – which, for me, included full lack of costumes. My character, Doug, is an undercover cop who arrests a prostitute early in Blue Surge. To keep his cover, he strips completely when he asks for a “massage.”

This is a first for me, and not something I really thought I’d ever do. But I love this show, and I love playing Doug, and the story just doesn’t go forward if he doesn’t make the arrest. And that means the play doesn’t go forward if I don’t get naked.

So, for the last five weeks in rehearsals, I’ve been getting ready. I’ve had a lot of help from the cast and crew, who have been supportive and professional (and yes, cracking immature jokes, but that’s part of the process too). Sasha Gioppo, who plays Heather and shares the stage with me (and has slightly more of a costume than I do, but not much), has been particularly fantastic. I know it’s a weird experience for her too, and I hope she feels as comfortable with it as she’s helped me feel.

Last night, performing in front of an audience for the first time, I realized that – for me at least – there’s no such thing as being “ready.” It feels weird if I slow down enough to think about it, and it will probably keep feeling weird until the last show on May 3rd, but it also feels exhilarating and liberating. It’s a quick, active scene at the beginning of the play, and there’s not much time on stage to think about that weirdness (there’s plenty of time for that before and after the show, of course).

Instead of feeling uncomfortable during the scene, I’ve found myself feeling more free – since I would never ever get naked in public, I have no choice but to let the character of Doug take over. He, of course, is totally fine with it. So while I’m on stage, I feel like I am Doug in a way that I’ve never really felt before – I have no inhibitions, no doubts, and none of the usual voices in my head that analyze my performance while I’m in the midst of it. Simply put, it’s not me on stage. It can’t possibly be me. It’s Doug, and I can trust him to be himself and get me through the scene. And if things are going well, as they were last night, that feeling carries over through the rest of the play. So in an odd way, this is actually making me feel more comfortable as an actor than I’ve ever been.

So now I can cross this off my list of things to do before I die. And now that I’ve done it in front of a packed house (a nice surprise for a Dress Rehearsal), why not do it again?

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2 Responses

  1. Hey, Nathaniel:

    I was there Sunday and my friend and I discussed the nudity during intermission. I always feel empowered and in awe of someone who does full nudity on-stage. I have said it’s something that I don’t know if I could do, but certainly if it was required, I would. Kudos to you for embracing it– the character absolutely required it.

    I couldn’t take the time to fill out the survey, but please pass along hearty congrats to cast, crew and director.

    I have to say that while I admire Kevin Scott’s work and reputation with Eclipse, his performance here was awkward, particularly when he was playing anger. He did not maintain eye contact and seemed to be sputtering his lines without really knowing what he was saying. He didn’t seem to be connecting with others on stage; he didn’t feel real. The exception was the final scene, which was beautifully written, staged and performed.

    You, on the other hand, were dynamite. I believed every moment of Doug, and I thought you and Sasha Gioppo played off each other beautifully. Laura Coover was fantastic, too.

    I’ve done a great deal of performing and directing out in the burbs, and am hoping to be a part of a group in the city soon. Eclipse certainly attracts me, especially after seeing “Blue Surge.”

    Continue to strip with pride.

    Cheers,
    Doug Orlyk

  2. Thanks, Doug! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, and definitely appreciate the kudos –

    Nat

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