Today in rehearsal, I asked my stage partner if she consented to me touching her and kissing her. She seemed kind of taken aback. My director asked if that was “a new theatre thing”, and I said “No, it’s just important to ask.”
I dunno. It is important to ask. On stage, off stage. I thought it lessened all our lingering hesitations too (stage kisses can be weird sometimes). Actors don’t ask for consent enough and I don’t know why. I’ve totally witnessed someone getting kissed on stage and they were extremely uncomfortable with it because they were caught off guard. It’s painful to watch.
As an actor, it’s part of my job to sometimes kiss people on stage. How do I navigate between a job and my own levels of comfort? I was in a show last year where I felt uncomfortable around most of the men on stage (they’ve been touchy and rude in the past), and no one asked for my consent to hold me or kiss my cheek. I was really tense the whole time. But I didn’t feel comfortable saying “no” because my director said we had to, and again, it’s my job.
Q: How can performers promote consent culture in the rehearsal space? How can we make the rehearsal space safer? What rights do actors have over their own body in a performance?
*I feel like the answer is obvious, but I’m not so sure.