The 2nd Act Players’ fall show, Old Ringers, will feature the work of an intimacy choreographer. This marks the first time the 2nd Act Players has hired someone in this role.
The concept of an intimacy choreographer is a relatively new one in the theater. Here, our intimacy choreographer, Sophia Sinsheimer, explains the history of the position and what her work at 2nd Act Players involves.
1. Briefly describe for our audience what an intimacy choreographer does for a play?
An intimacy choreographer comes in when a play has intimate content that needs to be addressed! Intimacy can mean many things – from characters in romantic relationships to overtly sexual content. The intimacy choreographer is there to choreograph intimate moments, lead healthy discussions about character relationships and the content of the play, and act as an advocate for actors’ emotional and physical well-being in the room.
2. What’s led to the emergence of this as a specialty in theater?
Intimacy direction and choreography comes from the world of stage combat, where safety protocols were put into place to make sure that actors were able to do their work without getting hurt. As a society, we are moving towards a place where it is no longer acceptable to put actors in potentially dangerous or compromising situations around sexual content – and in the era of #MeToo, we’re refusing to turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in particular. Theaters have begun working with intimacy choreographers to put into practice the ideals that are important to everyone – that it should be safe, productive, and fun to work in the theater, and an intimacy choreographer keeps it that way.
3. Old Ringers has what we’re calling some bawdy language and behavior, what challenges does that present you as the intimacy choreographer for the production?
A lot of the ‘bawdy’ content in Old Ringers is very playful, so it’s important to discuss how sexuality can manifest itself as play. It’s also a challenge to empower actors to learn each others’ boundaries so that everyone feels that they can play safely and explore all the comedic aspects of the script without being limited.
Sophia Sinsheimer is a director and intimacy choreographer. She is the casting director for Underscore Theatre, where she recently directed Tiny Storefront Concert Series: After Dark. Recent Chicago intimacy choreography credits include Homeland 24 (Music for Theatre Chicago) and Masque Macabre (Strawdog Theatre). You can catch her next assistant-directing Peter and the Starcatcher at Big Noise Theatre, and directing Adventurers! at the Chicago Musical Theatre Festival. Visit her online at www.sophiasinsheimer.com.