A Guide for Acting Intimate Onstage

(Photo by Gem Ward)

(Photo by Gem Ward)

  • Charlotte Maidment

It is always a bit awkward when you’re asked to perform an intimate scene on stage, especially if you have never done an intimate scene before. Not only do you have to think about the portrayal of the scene, but you also must ensure that you and the other actor are both comfortable. I have recently had to perform the first intimate scene that I have ever had to perform onstage, so I thought I would write an article about how I found it and tips I think would help others when it comes to performing your first intimate scene.

The rehearsal process, although awkward, is critical when it comes to an intimate scene. Rehearsals allow you to figure out what you and your fellow actor are comfortable with doing. It also allows you to problem solve when something is not comfortable for someone. As this was our first intimate scene, my fellow actor and I were very nervous about having to touch each other. We decided that if he put his hands over mine, it would look like he was touching me to the audience, but it would actually be me touching myself. This made us a lot more comfortable, which allowed us to portray the scene better. Obviously, it’s important to consult your director before making these decisions.

The first few rehearsals are always going to be awkward. A lot of the time, you may not know the person that you have to be intimate with very well. Therefore, communication is key. Getting to know the other actor will help to ease some anxieties but also asking them what they’re comfortable with allows you to understand whether or not you need to be extra cautious with some movements. After you’ve got through the first few rehearsals, the nerves will die down, and it will become easier.

One thing that really helped my fellow actor and I was doing some basic exercises to make us less nervous about having to touch each other. For one activity, one person was blindfolded while the other had to gently stroke all over their body. This allowed the blindfolded person to highlight to the other person any areas that they are not very comfortable with. It also allowed us to get used to touching each other.

One thing that made me more anxious about having to act intimate on stage was knowing that my boyfriend was going to be in the audience. Of course, he knows that I am an actor, so he knows that I will need to perform intimate scenes from time to time. However, I was still concerned that he would feel angry or uncomfortable. I warned him that acting intimate was something that I had to do for this production and of course, he was absolutely fine with it. This conversation reassured me that he was okay with it. It’s so crucial for your partner to understand that it’s part of your job or your studies to act intimate so if they’re not okay with that, it’s a discussion that you need to have as a couple.

The main thing that helped me to overcome my nerves was to think about my character. I thought about how it’s not Charlotte on stage acting intimate; it is my character. This not only made the performance more realistic but also made me forget about how another actor is touching me.

Performing an intimate scene can be daunting, especially when it’s your first. At the end of the day, although it can be uncomfortable and nerve-racking, it’s just acting.