Chris Grady, 10 January 2016

My thanks to S S E R B D C L P and J for being in our session. I am choosing not to

list their names or emails because the discussion became very personal and open.

Feel free to connect with me if you would like to know more, and I will be developing a

small confidential email list for further discussion.

I called this session to explore what might happen if both the performers and the

audience who were invited to be clothing optional for an event. People around the

circle work as life models, are naturists, “whip of their kit at any opportunity” or are as

performers in shows which explored the human body, and events in which they or

others were naked. We have variously been part of naked yoga, or naked dance,

explorations of sacred space where the participants may be dressed or not.

I work as a coach and a number of those I support come from the non-performing arts.

Some are group photographers working with the human form, or people exploring

gender and empowerment, and others who work in workshops in a spiritual or healing

arena. They may or may not be theatregoers. My experience is that these two worlds

have not been brought together very much.

I am not here as a maker of a show, although by the end of the session there were

some wonderful ideas for a piece of immersive clothing optional theatre. The feeling is

that this could benefit from an open-space style specific discussion.

Here are some of the notes which I took as the discussion roamed widely:

* An event could work really well in the festival environment where there is often a

sense of freedom and joy in the release from clothes.

* The difference between “naked” and “nude” - a sense that the nude is a work of art

which uses the naked form.

* The unclothing needs to be handled with sensitivity and ritual - maybe there is a

journey through spaces, or time, or music, which invites the unclothing slowly. As the

confidence grows freedom is gained.

* Even the most experienced live models talk of the moment of unveiling the dressing

gown or final piece of clothing, is a moment when a decision has to happen - and can

still provide a moment of tension/fear.

* There are many cultural differences - an event in a park in Germany in the summer

would naturally have an audience around who may already be naked. Almost every

experimental theatre has naked-ness in it. But what would the audience feel if they

were invited to be naked ?

* We are so defined by our clothes, and the decisions we make on what we look like

as we go into the world each morning.

* People talked about not wearing bras normally, and the occasional times when they

thought they might need to because they were going into a strange or more formal

environment (still clothed, but partially naked underneath). Others talked about not

wearing any underwear in most places.

* Going to a gym, or in a shared shower, “I can't be the only person who is curious”.

* What a wonderful leveller - no phones, no notebooks, critics would be without

notebooks too - just experiencing the event.

* Need to be very careful that the space feels safe for all those, performers and

audience, who wish to be unclothed.

* “glitter bags” where phones can be locked whilst the owner is in the space.

* Words such as authenticity, acceptability.

* Fascination with older bodies, scars - maybe the audience might choose to reveal

their scars too.

* Masseurs explore the map of the body, not having time to admire the beautiful

curves of the buttocks.

* Bodypaint - the beauty of this form, and the potential to exist in a clothed world

without being considered naked. Naked bike ride for example. Anthony Gormley's


* “nudity in stillness is art, nudity in motion is comic carry-on”

* Do we make judgements of what others would think if we were part of a project “what

would my mother think/”

* Nudity as a gimmick v aiding the storytelling.

* Are men and women treated differently on stage.

*Women in the maim stay a similar shape throughout being naked, whilst male

genitals have their own agenda, and can change shape through temperature, inner

thoughts, actions, fear and emotions - or just for some inexplicable reason. This can

concern men.

Shows such as Matt Frazer / Julie, Beauty and the Beast, Protean Dance Dear Body,

Annie Sprinkle, Liberation art, Puppetry of the Penis.

Talked through the rehearsal process to allow comfort in nudity, where director and

other creative team joined in the unclothing process.

Great ideas on how to start the process, and lead to a naked gathering (7 veils, the

travelling space, music etc), but the other part of the process needs to be considering

how to close.

Action: I am intending to reach out to those non-theatre but ritual naked space holders

to update them on this discussion.

Action: There is a suggestion for a clothing-optional open space gathering. I would

welcome thoughts on this - especially from people who would like to be there. Clearly

anything might be discussed, but it could start with a ritual process to allow unclothing

for those who wish to explore being in a clothing optional space.

Your Call to Action: If this is intriguing, please email me [email protected]

Many thanks for everyone's honesty and welcome to explore this area.



naturist, Yoga, nudity, Audience, performers, audience, yoga, ritual, Ritual, naked,

clothing optional, tantra, life model, bodies, bodypaint

Comments: 3

Chris Grady, 7 June 2016

On Sun 26th June 2016 we will be holding the first one day conference on clothing optional theatre in London, which will

itself be clothing optional. I hope I have reached out to all the people who expressed an interest in developing this

exploration further. If you are reading this and want to be involved, then please email me [email protected]

Chris Grady, 25 September 2016

The first gathering on 26th June was immensely exciting - the widest possible range of topics explored or raised (see my

website for more details). We have a second day on Sun Nov 13th 2016 in London continuing the question “How do we

choose to reveal our bodies in life, performance, and art ?” from this we will explore a possible 2017 programme outwith

London under the general heading “Choice and Revelation - our bodies in life performance and art”. Do get in touch if you

find this comment on this site, and wish to learn more [email protected]

Chris Grady, 20 January 2017

See also this report from 2017