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August 22, 2016 / GO Brooklyn / Park Slope / Theater / The Greatest Story Ever

O brave nude world! Naked women to perform ‘Tempest’ in Prospect Park

Topless ‘Tempest’: Reanna Roane plays the spirit Ariel in an all-female production of “The Tempest” opening in Prospect Park on Sept. 7.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s Shakespeare in the buff!

An all-female troupe of actors will give a naked performance of Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” in Prospect Park next month. The live nude girl group will bring the provocative performance to the park’s Music Pagoda for four free performances on Sept. 7–10. The show’s male director says that the stripped-down show is designed to promote body positivity — but he also knew that using unclad actors would create some conversation.

“People are going to have big, strong reactions,” said Pitr Strait, who lives in Park Slope. “We asked ‘How do we work nudity into the play so Shakespeare doesn’t get swallowed up and so the huge, distracting thing works for us?’ ”

William Shakespeare’s final play is set on a magical island, and the inhabitants of the remote isle begin the play in the altogether. Those who shipwreck on the beach begin by wearing pencil skirts, high heels, and corsets, but their stuffy ensembles are too much for the tropical island and the women to unclothe their naked villainy by the end of the play.

This is the second incarnation of the show, which premiered in Manhattan’s Central Park in May. Public nudity is illegal in New York City parks, but officials make special exceptions for performance art, said Strait, and the group has secured permits for the shows.

The permit for the Manhattan shows only allowed full nudity during the actual performances, so the actors could not have an un-dress rehearsal inside the park. Instead, the group prepared for the show by going to a nude spa so they could adjust to being in the buff together, and rehearsed topless before opening night. The actors also sweated through some intense training from Strait to perfect their use of Shakespearean language — which should silence critics who think the show is just a gimmick, said one of the actors.

“We focused deeply on the language,” said Kara Lynn, a body paint and nude figure model who portrays the young prince Ferdinand. “So this play isn’t just about a bunch of naked women. We’re all trained Shakespearean actors. As an actor, doing Shakespeare is already difficult, but now doing it nude was another layer of ‘Oh my God.’ ”

During the month leading up to the premiere, Lynn went to the gym and attended yoga classes to help give her the confidence to act while in her birthday suit.

“As a woman you want to remain true to the body-positivity movement, but at the same time you want to feel good about yourself,” she said.

About 400 people turned out to peep at the two Central Park performances in May, and most audience members reacted positively, said Lynn. But the play caused a tempest in a teapot as critics — most of whom had not seen the show — slammed it for tarnishing Shakespeare’s work. But Lynn said that she is willing to stand against the slings and arrows of outrage in order to promote healthy body images.

“I do it more for the body-positivity movement and the idea that women shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies, just like men shouldn’t,” she said.

“The Tempest” at Prospect Park’s Music Pagoda (at the north end of the Nethermead, enter at Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Road in Prospect Lefferts Gardens). Sept. 7–10 at 5:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Noomi from Bushwick says:
So you define these people as "women" simply based on their genitalia? Gender is not binary, how hard is that to understand? Many might be non-identifying, but afraid to admit it to you because of your judgement. You're like one of those bathroom facisists - why are people only allowed to use one bathroom, when they might want to explore other bathrooms?!? How can people be free if they can't poop just anywhere they feel like?! Why do we even have to limit them to bathrooms? Maybe a couch really feels like it was meant to be a toilet, but was arbitrarily assigned to the wrong item??
Aug. 22, 2016, 3:28 am
Hootie from Park Slope says:
If you don't have acting talent, it doesn't hurt to have a gimmick. If the gimmick is blah bodies covered with blah paint desperately seeking attention, you might need something more.
There could be a big market for perverts, though I'm not sure if they're so into untrained nudes in sticky paint. Maybe they are.
Aug. 22, 2016, 8:12 am
Fat Unnatractive Woman from Shameville says:
Since I don't have the courage or the cause to do this I am going call the people that put this on attention seekers and anyone that watches it a pervert. There. Now I feel better about myself and can take a 5 minute break from self-loathing.
Aug. 22, 2016, 9:53 am
bib from midwood says:
@Noomi bugger off
Aug. 22, 2016, 11:54 am
carol from flatbush says:
I don't think it is necessary to have nude actors just to portray a play, especially in a public area. There are many children and minors in these public areas, and I think that this sort of public display does not belong. If there is no other way to portray the works of Shakespeare, then it should not be done. This only contributes to perverts, raping and getting into mischief. What has become of public decency?
Aug. 22, 2016, 12:09 pm
Morris from Mill Basin says:
I read this story twice because the first time I didn't see the name of the theater company. You would think that would be important to put in the first paragraph of an article. I would like to know why Lauren Gill did not provide this. Is this an oversight? What happened to the "who" in "who-what-where-when"?

Apparently Ms. Gill or her editors, if there are any who saw this story, were so interested in the supposedly prurient aspects of this play production that they didn't include a basic fact that a sixth-grade reporter for the P.S. 191 News would know.

As a journalist, Ms. Gill has been caught with her pants down!
Aug. 22, 2016, 12:34 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I hate to say this, but I don't agree with this play. I believe this to be more along the line's of Greenaway's cinematic version, "Prospero's Books" which renders this "play" redundant in the aspect of nudity. I have to ask, and I know the play is free but: to we get a free toaster with this?
John Wasserman/Not in my park (if you don't mind)
Aug. 22, 2016, 12:36 pm
beauty from Brooklyn says:
Freedom with the human body is beginning to emerge, finally, and it's beautiful.

And we're seeing that the world is not coming to an end as a result. Pervs are not "looming about" and moralists are not "melting".

Both children and grownups need to learn and become comfortable as we are with all other living things in their natural state. Looks like the children, as they grow and learn to think for themselves, will be the ones to teach the parents.
Aug. 22, 2016, 2:05 pm
Janet Toodlee from Park Slope says:
Your just intimidated because they're women. Men show off their bodies all the time, but women are supposed to hide under a burka. This play is throwing that in their muslim faces. Stop your islamification Of female bodies!
Aug. 22, 2016, 2:12 pm
Gimme from Yourz says:
Dis iz how I likes my white beyatches..crazy n nekkid yo!
Aug. 22, 2016, 2:17 pm
GJ from Kensington says:
Why do only racists and crazy people read the Brooklyn Paper?
Aug. 23, 2016, 11:08 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I'd hit that. Again, and again.
Aug. 23, 2016, 9:08 pm
Misty from Feminist says:
Why are the women forced to be naked, and the men watch them - sexualizing their bodies? Men are not expected to be sexy and naked, only women. No surprise this is driven by a MAN! Why aren't their any handicapped actors in this production?!
Aug. 24, 2016, 3:32 am
Da real gimme from Yourz says:
Yo imposter shut yo stupid mouth foo..stop talk in about yo dumb self that way :p
Aug. 24, 2016, 11:55 am
Pete Schult from Baldwinsville NY says:
@Noomi from Bushwick:

Ms. Gill isn't defining them as women. They define themselves as such. For more information, you can look at a video that Salon die on the Manhattan priemier of the show back in May at https://vimeo.com/167999450
Aug. 28, 2016, 1:55 pm

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