I am reaching out to people working in live art, professional theatre, visual arts, sacred and sensual space holding, to create a small discussion group, and ongoing r&d project, which considers what happens to an artistic/creative project if there is an invitation for the “audience”/observer to be clothing optional themselves.
If there were an invitation to inhabit a shared space in this way, what creative subjects might be tackled with honesty, openness and safety ?
Please don’t circulate this page, but please do let me have your thoughts, and indeed any suggestions of others I could reach out to.
There was a theatre conference Jan ’16 in Birmingham, at which I raised a question to allow for a discussion exploring nakedness/nudity in a performance, art, audience relationship. Here are the notes from this fully clothed discussion. https://shar.es/16i3na
My thanks to those at Devoted & Disgruntled: Open Space events, run by Improbable, for the welcome of this session, and to those who attended with very personal stories and ideas explored.
This led me to decide a first step: To facilitate a one day conference/workshop to explore Clothing Optional theatre/performance, which itself would include the invitation for participants to choose at times to embrace the clothing-optional experience. My intention was that this should be a series of wide ranging conversations around the (provisional) question “How do we choose to reveal our bodies through life, performance and art ?”.
This was held using “open space” principles but within a closed/safe space. Every person invited was known to me. Around 50 people were invited and 17 were available and joined us for the day. The participants were a mix of sacred/spiritual/sensual workshop leaders; theatremakers and performers; artists and live art practitioners; experts in healing, therapy, and related academic study; and professional theatre creatives/producers who are themselves interested in, comfortable with, clothing optional spaces.
I had no expected outcome, except the wish to be surprised by some of the conversations which would occur when different experienced and interested people worked together. This first gathering did not include “audience”, naturist/general public at this point – all invitees were leaders and “makers” of work.
Experiences and follow-ons
From the first day there were a series of provocative agenda items and notes, these were shared with those present and, for the moment, have not been circulated more widely. Those attending the next event will have a digest of the discussions and actions. Here below are a summary of the topics explored:
|COT – Is this just another gimmick ?|
|Creativity Art, Sex and Sexuality|
|Finding & Making pleasure in a time of sadness|
|Gender Sexuality Nudity|
|Nudity Spirituality Madness|
|Our body (bodies) and others|
|What next for Nature’s Nun|
|Who makes and enforces the rules|
|Witnessing / Making Art Conscious Intimacy|
|Reflections on the day (from final circle)|
|Regaining the body|
British Naturism invited us to their annual conference for further discussion where two of us help short workshop sessions with members. Here nakedness was the norm, but considering art and creativity as a means to reach deeper into self understanding was new to many. We had some rich and emotionally powerful moments.
A small session was held at the Quintasensual festival near Glastonbury, which was a clothing optional festival and the participants were experienced in exploring sacred, spiritual and sensual practice. Here it was the connection to art and theatre which caused interesting discussions. It is very clear that the three elements of art, nudity, spiritual practice come together in very different combinations – rarely are the three explored in balance.
2nd One Day Conference
For our second London based conference, in November 2016, we again used Open Space Technology to create an agenda of discussions on the day. Again there were around 20 people in this safe clothing optional environment. This time we encouraged some experiential workshop moments – less talk, more feel. The report on this discussion has gone to those present. Below are the items raised and explored:
The role of CGO / Revelation
Balance of boundaries and risk (experiential)
Being vulnerable to what is
Body Transformation / design and nature
Defining radical sexualities – possible ?
How to live & move…world fixed & fearful
Nudity Madness and the Theatre…
Radical Honesty, Authentic Connection
Relating, balance, authenticity & power
The Many masks we wear…honest expression
Touch Me/You (experiential)
Transformation through movement
Unexplored !! (experiential)
Why do we need “safe” space ?
In the evening the participants were invited to stay for a reading of a new piece about body image and nakedness entitled Eve Ate Figs. A beautiful sacred safe space was created and the audience chose to be clothing optional in response to their sense of the piece.
Clothing Optional Hair
On November 11th 2017 one performance of the smash hit Manchester Hope Mill production of “Hair” in London was reserved for CGO. We reached out to a new audience for the production with a twist. For this one night the audience would be Clothing Optional. Within a month of going on sale we were sold out, and on the night itself the atmosphere was one of a great party. We learned from the experience of creating these bigger, more open and accessible, naked/clothing optional events. The cast loved it. The management were happy. Now we will be delighted to work with theatres and producers on future events.
As I write this I am shaping some strong ideas on where this initial exploration may lead. It has already created a gathering of around 100 practitioners who want to be involved now and in the future in Revelation. I go to the 2018 meeting of Devoted and Disgruntled to ask a question to the assembled 200+ clothed practitioners.
I welcome your thoughts including suggestions of other people I should know about, and concerns on anything I have written so far. I especially welcome collaborators/drivers who may see the right way forward for this embryonic r&d.
If you would like to be on the invitation list, please email me, in confidence advising how you work or connect to this field. If you are a naturist “audience” member or workshop participant, then again I would be happy to hear from you, so we can build the best routes to gather test audiences for specific events.