Especially non-sexual nudity. I am all for a more open attitude towards sexuality (and towards anything), but I still consider it an awful limitation of perceptions if nudity is primarily considered as a sexual thing. To me the aesthetics and communication aspects of the situation are much more important.
Letters to Domai
Our directorís vision for this production was bold and, as such, would require some lengthy nude scenes for the woman who would eventually be cast in the role of the statue brought to life. We were pleased and surprised that 11 women auditioned for the challenging role. Several of the actresses were especially well suited for the part, and the director selected five women for call-back audition slots. Three were university students and two were women who had been active in some of our previous productions. Each was told to memorize a longer monologue from the script and to be prepared to assume the role of a model in a sculptor's studio.
On the day of the callback auditions, each woman was scheduled for a 30 minute time slot so that our team could interview each performer in more depth, explain the challenging aspect of the role, and to determine if each actress would be comfortable with the nude scenes which were central to the story. We began each audition by asking the performers to act out the selected scene with the help of the actor who had already been cast in the Pygmalion role. Next, we interviewed each woman in more depth so that we would have a better sense of her stage experience and willingness to take on the challenging role. All of the performers told us that they were willing to attempt the role though none had any experience with nudity on stage. In the final segment, the director asked each woman to undress and assume a series of modeling positions that would be typical in an artistís studio. During this time, we could observe each womanís body to be sure that there were no distracting scars or tattoos since the idealized Galatea was supposed to be pure and flawlessly beautiful. We also needed to see if the performers were truly comfortable with the reality of being nude on stage for an extended period.
I will admit that I was mesmerized by the parade of beautiful woman who graced the stage that evening. The first woman was a blond university sophomore who seemed to be visibly shocked when the director asked her to undress for the final portion of the audition. She knew, of course, that the role required nudity, but she had not read the director's notes on the callback message that outlined the audition requirements. We assured her that she could withdraw her name from consideration if she was uncomfortable with the request, but she eventually found some courage and nervously took off her clothes. She was extremely self-conscious for the first few minutes and struggled to cover her naked form with her arms and hands, but she seemed to grow more comfortable as the director guided her through a series of sculptural poses. She assured us that she would be able to handle the role in front of a full audience, but we noticed that she seemed very relieved when she was able to get dressed again.
The second and third women to audition had both had roles in some of our other productions, and I wondered if either would feel nervous about getting naked in front of us. Each one joked about it before she started to undress, but in the end they both did very well during their auditions. The second woman was quite beautiful, though I think she was very embarrassed about having five of her friends looking closely at her nude body as she walked across the stage in front of us and held modeling poses for a short time. She might have been great for the role except that she had some tasteful but distracting tattoos on her back and ankle. The third woman was incredible. She had been a swimmer and a dancer, and so she had the supple athletic build that was perfect for the role. She stripped off her clothes with very little hesitation and she seemed to be rather comfortable as she moved around the stage and held her poses. At the end, she confessed that she and her husband have been to nude beaches and naturist resorts and that she was not embarrassed to be naked in front of others. Her body was flawless, her skin was exquisitely smooth and her full breasts and shapely legs all epitomized the ideal female form. I think we all knew at that moment that we had found our Galatea, but we still had two more actresses to audition.
The fourth woman was a striking redhead who looked very much like the pictures of Anna Red that I have seen on your preview pages. She was an art student at the nearby college and had some experience posing for figure study classes, but she still seemed quite nervous as she pulled her sweatshirt over her head and unzipped her jeans and pulled them over her hips. She asked if she could complete the audition in her bra and panties, but when the director explained to her that we needed to see how she would handle the required nudity, she slipped them off and walked nervously downstage and stood directly in front of us. Her fair skin was beautiful and the auburn hair on her head was mirrored by the colorful tuft of hair between her legs. She had very visible tan lines and the director asker her if she would be willing to forego the sun for a few weeks to even out her skin tones. As she stood on stage completely naked for those few short minutes, I was stuck by her innocent beauty and I guessed that she must be the living incarnation of that ideal 'girl next door' that we hear so much about.
The final actress on our audition schedule had limited acting experience but had done some modeling work for a local advertising firm. She wore a simple sundress and sandals and the thin fabric made no secret of the charms of her feminine form. When it came time for her to undress, we found that she had worn just the sundress and some skimpy lace panties, and so she was naked in a matter of moments. She seemed to be at ease as we watched her move across the stage and hold the model's poses, but we noticed her confidence waver a bit when we discussed the production. She was also a university student and I think the thought of being completely nude on stage in front of her many college friends who might attend the show was a daunting idea that she had not fully considered in her desire for the part.
In the end, we cast the third woman for the role and she was an amazing and visually stunning presence on our stage. We cast the fourth woman, the redhead with her innocent beauty, as an understudy for the role, and she had the chance to perform twice during the run of the show. During the course of the production run, they played to nearly full houses each night and audience members included the parents, brothers, cousins, and good friends of the two actresses. When I asked the two about the experience after the show closed, they both confessed that they had been nervous about performing nude in front of friends and family, but they both said that their fears disappeared as soon as they were on stage. I was especially pleased to learn that both women felt very positive about the experience and they both admitted that they felt more comfortable and satisfied with the appearance of their own bodies. I have enjoyed all of the shows that our theater group has produced over the years, but I will never forget the simple beauty of the two women who graced our stage for this show. It is the kind of beauty that seems to form the philosophy of this website, and so I thought I would share my experience.