Recent projects have gotten me meditating on nudity and its place in live theater.
First off, my gut instinct is that if you are using nudity onstage to be sexy you are cruising for disappointment. Our collective conscious has been hammered by so many fetishized images of allure and beauty, images that are so prepared, flesh that is so qualified that most folks who are willing to disrobe will never be able to illicit the same degree of passionate attraction that airbrushed celebrity sculpted into fashionable perfection can. The truth of the matter is that 99.9% of the time your eyes' truest desire regardless of fashion or youth just doesn't hold up under the gleam of a fluorescent or a 1000 watt follow spot. That is why someone invented lingerie. So nudity onstage for mere titillation... is not the best option. Honestly, if titillation is your goal, you'd do better to turn out all the lights and let the actors breath heavy in the dark.
So why use nudity? Or even implied nudity in a scene? In my opinion, the reason to use is purely as a storytelling device. Luridness, partial nudity, staged intimacy... all of these representations must serve story. And it must also serve the story that the telling is trying to convey, not as how the spectator would rather prefer.
Sometimes, it is not nudity that offends or generates consternation/provocation, it is the narrative the accompanies nudity. For example, a nude actor inhabits the empty space in a staged parable about the garden of eden... how does that compare to a fully clothed actor who plays out the representation of a rape murder scene. What if nudity never happens, but heavy petting occurs between the characters... then again how people feel about such portrayal is perceived as exploitative completely based on the resolution of the protagonist.
We each have our own set rules for why or when, nudity, sensuality, etc are relevant or acceptable on stage. What are yours.
What are some instances general or specific where nudity (actual or implied) became an issue for you or your collaborators during a workshop, rehearsal, etc.? What are your rules when it comes to nudity, touching, sensuality, etc onstage?