With Cameras on Every Phone, Will Broadway’s Nude Scenes Survive?

Jesse Williams was nominated for a Tony Award last month for his work in the acclaimed play “Take Me Out” about baseball and homophobia. But when her name trended on Twitter the other day, it wasn’t because of admiration: because someone secretly took a video of her nude scene and posted it online.

In a recent interview, Mr. Williams, who starred in “Gray’s Anatomy”, said he was “dismayed” by the incident. “I’m here to work – I’ll tell the truth on stage, I’ll be sensitive,” he said. But he also made it clear that he was not right about what happened to him, saying “it’s really bad to put nude photos of someone on the internet who disagree.”

Mobile phones have long disrupted live performances by ringing at inappropriate moments, and annoying artists when people use it to illegally film their work. Now the ubiquity of smartphones with always better cameras prompts some artists, especially celebrities, to reconsider whether to appear naked on stage, given the risk that what is intended as a fleeting moment may remain online forever out of context.

“Ten years ago, I don’t think the first thing that came out of my mouth was: ‘Are you okay knowing that this will be filmed or photographed and released on social media?'” Lisa Broadway, a publicist representing actors in television and film Goldberg spoke of her discussions when an artist was asked to appear nude. “It will be one of the first things I will bring to the client today.”

Nudity on stage has become commonplace over the last 50 years, and big stars, including Nicole Kidman and Daniel Radcliffe, have played nude scenes on Broadway when they insisted on their scripts. But the chances of being photographed natural or natural are greatly increased. No protection for Broadway royalty: Audra McDonald, who has won six Tony, noted in 2019 that she was photographed during a nude scene in “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lun”. “Not at all nice,” she wrote Tweet,

Williams was confronted by the Second Stage Theater, the producer of Mr. Na’s latest video “Take Me Out,” despite extraordinary measures taken to protect the privacy of nude-looking actors. Audience members need to turn off their phones and put them in pouches that are locked until the end of the show. Pouches made by a company called Yonder have become more and more common in recent years, especially in stand-up shows, as comedians are both fiercely defensive towards their jokes and are concerned that some, taken out of context, Can cause.

About one million Yondr pouches were used at live events in April, about five times more than those used in the same month in 2019, the company said. Other shows with nude scenes are now trying them out: In late May, Penguin Rap Theater announced that it will be releasing its next off-Broadway production, “Mr. Parker” because the show has a brief nudity moment.

Graham Dugoni, who founded Yonder in 2014, lamented that many people still have a hard time understanding “how to be human in the world with a computer in your pocket”.

“A nude photograph is obviously very extreme,” Mr. Dugoni said. “But the comedian’s little thing is taken out of context and re-packaged and re-interpreted on social media – all these things do not enhance the art form. They snatch it in a way that gets people into hedgehog mode. “

But precautions are not foolproof. Comedy Night Bell was supposed to be free at the Hollywood Bowl last month, but when its headliner, Dave Chappell, was tackled on stage, a video came out from some people who had broken the rules. And earlier this spring, when Chris Rock set up his first public stand-up after Will Smith slapped him on stage at the Academy Awards, attendees at the Wilbur Theater in Boston also needed to keep their phones in a Yonder pouch. They were only allowed to use it in the designated area near the lobby, where a ticket holder forgot to text the babysitter and asked for his phone back. Video That show emerged, too.

The ease of video recording and uploading has paused people looking to undress in other situations, including some college students who have re-evaluated the wisdom of traditional nude campus runs and nude beach habits, increasingly in search of a camera. But it is becoming a special issue in theaters, where actors are asked to appear naked when they sign their contracts.

Kate Schindle, president of the Actors Equity Association, said in an interview that many artists believe that live theater is “to participate within four walls” and that “if its sanctity is compromised, the work is harmed.” Recording from the audience, she said, “can feel like a violation – even if you’re wearing all your clothes.”

Union officials said advanced written consent is required for any filming or photography that involves nudity. That includes any video that appears in the Theater on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, said Patrick Hoffman, director and curator of the archive, which has over 4,400 video recordings of live theater productions. Most agree. But over the years, some artists have refused to record their nude scenes for the archive. In some cases studies have gone into their place, and in others, their formation has not been noted. The archive has specially formatted some videos of the show featuring nudity so that researchers can watch it, but not pause, rewind or fast forward.

Long before the iPhone debuted in 2007, covert photography posed a challenge for nude-looking artists on stage.

The atmosphere in the theater today, where nudity is a regular feature on Broadway and in some productions of the Metropolitan Opera, is far from what it was in 1969, when Margo was a Sepington, choreographer and original production artist. “Oh! Calcutta!”, Which featured widespread nudity, was one of the first to be arrested for pornographic exposure after a demonstration in Los Angeles.

Even in that pre-smartphone era, cameras were a nuisance, Ms. Said Sapington. So the company decided on low-tech mitigation criteria: if anyone saw the camera from the stage, they would close the show, break down the fourth wall, and call in entrants.

“It’s impossible to see cellphones in the Broadway theater in the dark now,” she said. “People are very abusive. It amazes me.”

And a video leaked featuring Mr. When “Take Me Out” first aired on Broadway in 2003, Williams was very familiar with Daniel Sunjata, who played a similar character named Darren Lamming. Photos of her nude scenes were also leaked, but contained some more. The pre-Facebook and Twitter era made social media very widespread.

“The main difference between now and then is the amplitude,” Mr. Sunjata said, “The faster, the faster such things can be spread.”

But the leaks bother Shree. Sunjata, who had a challenge to start nude scenes. He said he consulted his lawyers and “wanted to roll heads.”

For Mr. Sunjata is less about the main difference between performing on a nude stage eight times a week in front of a live audience and taking a nude photo, the durability of the photo and the lack of context around it. “Anyone who hasn’t seen the play only sees naked boys on stage,” he said.

The current resurgence of “Take Me Out” has taken further steps to prevent people from filming its cast. As a backup of the Yonder Pouch, the Second Stage Theater has installed infrared cameras with the ability to pen, tilt and zoom so that security officials can see if any members of the audience are trying to film nude scenes.

During the performance of the play last month, two staff members of the theater were standing in front of the theater on both ends of the stage. They appeared during scenes involving nudity. For all intents and purposes, the phone rang within five minutes of the first operation. The crowd was audible.

When Mr. Asked if he would re-sign up for a show in which he must appear naked, Williams delayed. “I don’t know,” he said. “My reaction has never been so hot, or as loud or as miserable as everyone expects it to be.”

Michael Paulson and Julia Jacobs contributed to the reporting. Sheilagh McNeil and Ellen Delacquery contributed to the research.

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