One thing I’ve noticed in my work on Antony and Cleopatra is how careful the youngest actors are about getting consent from each other before they touch each other. This is new; I don’t know if it’s because of movements like #metoo or #notinourhouse, but it’s definitely different.
I’ve always been careful about ensuring that actors get specific consent for things like kisses, combat, contact improv, etc. But these folks–most of them still in college–say, “Is it okay if I hold your hand?” One gave another cast member a spontaneous kiss on the cheek in the course of a scene and then profusely apologized for not asking him. They’re good friends from far before the show started, but she felt like she had crossed a line.
The idea that each person has the absolute right to determine who touches their body and how is such an important one. I’m impressed with these younger actors’ commitment to this value.
It feels like movement in the right direction. There is such deep respect and empowerment in the way that they handle each other’s bodies. I want to take this on; I want to hold myself to this value. I want to say, “Is it okay if he embraces you at this moment?” rather than, “So how about you embrace her on this line?” I learn from their example how this creates respect.
The best thing about directing is actors.