There have been countless interpretations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but this summer Torn Out Theater has presented perhaps the boldest version and at the same time also the truest to the character. After all, Hamlet himself wrote to Claudius: “High and mighty, You shall know I am set naked on your kingdom”, – to which he confirmed: “‘Tis Hamlet’s character. ‘Naked!'” You may argue that there is no need for such literal interpretation, but through this production, Torn Out Theater aims to draw attention to “fraught, complex world of male body image”.
The cast is all male, which is actually in accord with the theatrical tradition in Shakespearian times. In this respect, last year’s performance of ‘The Tempest‘ with an all-female cast was even more revolutionary. If the Tempest was played by amateurs (mostly from the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp fiction Appreciation Society), this year’s production features professional actors. Jake Austin Robertson did amazing job playing Hamlet, in my opinion (and I heard the same from other spectators), and as he reveled in the press release at Pix11, nudity might have helped: “It’s a means of discovering his own truth and figuring out who he is regardless of whatever everyone else wants him to be”. However, not all actors in the play were naked, and those who were – for various periods of time. It seemed like nakedness was used as a tool to show that the character revealed his true colors, especially in emotional moments. This may be a pretty good theatrical tool to keep the audience engaged, given that there are studies showing that people are more compassionate and empathic when they see images of naked people compared to clothed people (not to mention saving money on costumes). Actors, on the other hand, get an additional way to express themselves – with the body language (and probably even without realizing it) – as such features as tension of the muscles or subtle changes in the posture would usually be concealed by costume. All this certainly worked for [spoiler alert! but you probably know the storyline to some extent anyway] the brilliantly choreographed fight scene between Hamlet and Laertes, or the final scene of Hamlet dying in the arms of Horatio.
So, you could (should!) see it all for yourself this weekend in Prospect Park in Brooklyn or in the beginning of September in Central Park. While the more known Public Theater features Hamlet “running around in his underpants“, our advice is to check out Torn Out Theater that goes all the way! Moreover, the performance is also free of charge (but donations are encouraged). Arrive earlier to get better seating; only limited amount of chairs is available for rent – but the atmosphere has a nice picnic vibe to it, so seating on the grass is what most people opt for. Overall, it is a great idea to have this performance in the parks out in the open, which makes this theater truly public. Compared to the famous ‘Shakespeare in the Park’, this is a much more intimate, immersive show… and who knows, maybe at some point there will be a show where the audience can be naked too. This is what is going to happen during the rock musical ‘Hair’ in London.
It would be good to hear opinions of people involved in theater professionally, so feel free to leave comments here. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure there will be some coverage form a couple of major outlets soon.
Yesterday, I saw the premiere of Labyrinth at Abrons Arts Center, as my friend performed there. Even though it does refer to the Greek myth of Theseus, there isn’t much nudity in the play, but I thought I should mention it in my blog still (besides the fact that my friend plays there). Theseus in this play, is trying to understand himself while going through the labyrinth of his memories and emotions. While doing so, he touches more general issues from living in New York City as an artist to relationship with religion/s and global warming. When one of his alter egos talked about New York, he mocked the Naked Cowboy of Times Square, “who isn’t even naked”, so he briefly showed (flashed is probably a better word) what “really naked” was 😉
After the show, I grabbed Abrons Arts Center‘s brochure and found that there were more upcoming shows that featured full nudity. So, I’m definitely coming back for at least two of these!
2013 Bessie Award winner Jaro Vinarský returns to the Abrons with his newest duet, ANIMALINSIDE, a suite of poem-like stories, inspired by Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai and German painter Max Neumann’s book of the same title. This work for two dancers investigates the extreme states of a man’s relationship to his own body, to another man, and to viewers.
A daring piece of radical research, the work demands an exceptionally high level of consciousness, strength, and sensitivity from the performers — just as is to be expected from the Hungarian choreographer Adrienn Hód. Watch trailer here.
Making their American debut, Radio Ballet presents The Nature of Love, a choreographed fictionalization of the private and shared experiences of the performers. Avoiding worn clichés of movements and gestures, their intimate duet is lyrical, unashamedly shy, and a wry commentary on the demented state called love.
Thanks to Travasuns group, even in the cold time of the year we can gather for social naked activities at a monthly Winter Pool Party in Long Island. The next one is this Saturday, March 1 . I’ve been to a few of their events, and it was always fun. It’s a low-key event at a rented gym. They offer saunas, hang-out pool, pizza and even volleyball, which is often unofficially dubbed as naturists’ favorite sport. Given that volleyball is indoors and surrounded by walls, we can also play it as wallyball.
Yup, you heard right. Pacha Has Woods! And when you’ve got Woods, the last thing you need is your pants. Pacha is pleased to invite you to take them off – take them all off. A staple of the modern clubbing era, the No Pants Party is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. Rock out with your everything out all night to the waist-down sounds of our brand new resident: Michael Woods!#PACHAHASWOODS FREE ADMISSION TIL 2AM WHEN YOU CHECK YOUR PANTS AT THE DOOR!
Let’s see how far we can go with rocking out with our everything out, and if Michael Woods himself joins the craze!
I would also like to mention the film called ‘Stranger By The Lake’ (L’inconnu du lac). I heard about it a few months ago from a friend in Paris, and now it made it to a couple of cinemas in New York. It’s set at a nudist beach and cruising area by a lake in French countryside. It is a very powerful psychological drama about reckless passion, friendship, loneliness… It is very realistic and has no music soundtrack, and yet it’s also beautifully shot. Given that I don’t want cruising culture to be associated with nudism, I need to point out right away that, curiously, cruising itself was done clothed, while most conversations and other interactions were done in the nude. I wonder if this fact made the film so emotionally powerful, as there are studies showing that people are more compassionate and empathic when they see images of naked people as opposed to clothed people. I’ll say no more, I don’t want to spoil it for those who hasn’t seen the film yet.
Maybe you assumed from my last blogpost that the naturist season is over in New York area, but it isn’t at all! Besides the ongoing naked yoga classes with my friends (and there are even more options, e.g. Zensual yoga), I’m planning to attend two events in the next days.
Tonight, I’m going to an off-Broadway show with naked performers – Naked Holidays, right by Times Square!
I went to their performance last year with a colleague whose friend is playing there, and we are going together again. It is a fun show, and it’ll definitely put me in a more festive mood, as I usually notice arrival of winter holidays with a sort of surprise.
This will be the second year that NYC is left out of what seemed to become a traditional Nude Year’s Eve
But thanks to Travasuns, we have an ‘early Nude Year’s Eve’ – this Saturday, December 28. I was at the previous event, and it was a lot of fun. Although Travasuns has a fame of bringing mostly ‘older’ crowd, there was no shortage of activities and I saw many familiar faces from events of YNA, Vita Nuda, or local beaches. Judging by the calendar, they might be as well the most active nudist group in winter season. They offer saunas, hang-out pool, pizza, but what’s especially cool is that they manage to provide volleyball in winter, which is often unofficially dubbed as naturists’ favourite sport. First, I was quite sceptical about indoors volleyball, but in the end my friends Yassin, for whom it was the first naked event btw, Sergei, Liza and I just couldn’t stop playing and were the last ones to leave the field…
Looking forward to these events! Stay tuned for reviews 🙂
Who would have thought, that it would be a colleague of mine who would recommend me an apparently famous off-Broadway show with naked performers – Naked Holidays, right by Times Square!
I haven’t heard of it on any naturist/nudist websites, but it is already their 6th year and they still get sold out! Not quite as long as the Naked Boys Singing, but still impressive. So, of course I am going to check it out, on their last show this season.
It sounds like a fun holiday season show, and if you’re interested, I’ve found a website that sells tickets for half the price, follow the link.
On another note, it looks like this year NYC is left out of what seemed to become a traditional Nude Year’s Eve
But thanks to Travasuns, we have an ‘unscheduled early Nude Year’s Eve’ – this Saturday, December 29. I was at the previous event, and it was a lot of fun. Although Travasuns has a fame of bringing mostly ‘older’ crowd, there was no shortage of activities and I saw many familiar faces from events of YNA, Vita Nuda, or local beaches. Judging by the calendar, they might be as well the most active nudist group in winter season. They offer saunas, hang-out pool, pizza, but what’s especially cool is that they manage to provide volleyball in winter, which is often unofficially dubbed as naturists’ favourite sport. First, I was quite sceptical about indoors volleyball, but in the end my friends Yassin, for whom it was the first naked event btw, Sergei, Liza and I just couldn’t stop playing and were the last ones to leave the field…
Looking forward to these events! Stay tuned for reviews 🙂