Naturist Night at the Theatre
On any given day in Toronto there are all kinds of unique and off-the-beaten-path art shows and events. On April 1st – not to be confused with an April Fools joke – the stage production S h e e t s performed in front of a completely nude audience.
Written and directed by Salvatore Antonio, S h e e t s is a series of vignettes set in a single hotel room, telling the stories of its passing inhabitants in moments of intimacy and vulnerability. For example, one vignette features a double amputee and burn victim preparing for a friend’s funeral, who’s forced to open up emotionally to the housekeeper who helps him put on his suit. Another shows two male friends coming face-to-face with their own masculinity and sexuality, as they wait in the hotel room for a female friend – the third member of a threesome – to join them. In all-around excellent performances, the actors opened themselves up both emotionally and physically. Private thoughts and emotions are made public and inner truths about themselves laid bare.
In this sense, the audience’s nudity seemed in complete keeping with the play’s message. Rather than the actors being up on display voyeuristically, they were placed on the same level as the audience. The barrier between actor and audience was lifted and the performances themselves were made the focus, instead of the nudity. Especially with such themes as intimacy and accepting oneself and each other, it almost made more sense for the audience to be nude as well. It was used as an open invitation to allow ourselves to open up along with the actors.
A big bravo to the entire cast and crew for a great production as well as The Theatre Centre and Bare Oaks for sharing this unique experience.