School of Theatre Policy for Nudity in Rehearsal & Performance

The School of Theatre (SOT) recognizes that nudity can be an important element of the theatre artist’s palette and integral to the aesthetic world of a production. We recognize the diversity of our community, and that individuals hold a multiplicity of viewpoints and sensitivities regarding public nudity. Nudity makes a powerful statement. Its artistic power requires a department policy that does not forbid it, while it demands we not abuse its value in a casual or exploitative manner.

Performance Approval

No director or company member will be required to include nude scenes or participate in a production that requires nudity. No director or company member will present nudity onstage without approval. By “company member,” SOT means all artistic and production team members affiliated with a specific theatrical project including director, designers, management, actors, and crew members.

A “mutual veto” is exercised between the SOT director, faculty, and the production’s director regarding all uses of nudity in a SOT production. Full agreement must be reached by SOT and the director before proceeding with production nudity. In order for this mutual veto to be properly applied, decisions regarding nudity must be reached at the time of a play’s selection.

“Nudity” in this policy includes full or partial nudity. Partial nudity is defined as bared buttocks, female toplessness, the use of garments that are transparent or provide minimal genital covering or that are so loose the actor might be exposed. Nudity does not include underwear or other garments that provide as much covering as a bathing suit.

If nudity is specified in a script proposed for approval, the director must state whether or not they intend to stage the nudity as written. If a director wishes to add nudity that is not called for in the written script, they must advise the school when submitting the script. Proposals to retain scripted nudity or add nudity must state explicitly in writing:

  • the degree of nudity [full frontal; full non-frontal, partial nudity, etc.]
  • the duration of exposure, from a minimum to a maximum length of time
  • the roles and genders of those who will perform nude
  • any physical contact between nude performers and others
  • any simulated sexual activity by a nude performer alone or with others
  • the director’s rationale for the use of nudity

The school may agree to the nudity as proposed, or to a modified version acceptable to both the school and director.

If the school permits nudity, it will do so according to the written description agreed to by the school and director. Mindful of its legal and ethical obligations, the school will then limit the casting and crewing of the show to students who are 18 years of age or older. As this age restriction requires advance planning, nudity may not be added during rehearsals. An exception may be requested of the SOT Director and faculty only if all company members are 18 or older, all members consent to the addition, and there is time to ensure that all crew members will be 18 or older and the nude content can be advertised to the public.

Auditions and Casting

No company members will be required to perform nude or be in a production containing nudity. Company members are allowed to decline to perform such roles, decline to be onstage during nude scenes, or decline to participate in the production.

The director must supply an audition form for actors at callbacks, which will contain the written description of nudity agreed to by the school and director, including the director’s justification for nudity.

There will be no nude auditions.

Actors will signal their consent or refusal to perform nude or to participate in the production on the callback form. Actors are advised to consider very seriously the commitment they may make to perform nude. The department will not permit any student under 18 to perform nude, regardless of the student’s willingness to do so. If an actor commits to play a nude scene, they are expected to perform as agreed; otherwise it is unfair to the production and to other actors who might have been cast in the role. Any exceptions to this will be considered on an individual basis with the SOT Director, director of play, and the CFA Dean’s office.

Rehearsal and Performance

The process of introducing nudity into rehearsals must be addressed and agreed upon by the school and the director at the time of nudity approval. As each rehearsal process is different, an individualized protocol will be developed based on the specific needs of each production.

The director and a stage manager must both be present during rehearsals of any actors working nude. Student directors may request a designated faculty mentor to be present at the first rehearsal.

The only persons to be present while rehearsing nude scenes shall be those absolutely required. Except for run-throughs, cast and crew members not directly involved in nude scenes shall not be present in the rehearsal area.

All entries to the rehearsal area will be locked or an assistant will be stationed outside each door to stop anyone who might enter.

Actors performing nude scenes shall bring robes to rehearsal, or robes must be provided. The robes will be kept close at hand, and actors will cover up during any break in the rehearsal for notes, etc.

The SOT Director or other designated faculty member will view a dress rehearsal before the production opens to be sure the intended nudity conforms to what has been agreed to between director and the school. The written agreement will be upheld, and the SOT Director or designated faculty member may require adjustments to ensure that the agreement is not violated. The school will alert the public in advance to the presence of nudity in any production. The school will decide if audiences will be restricted to those 18 or older on a case-by-case basis.

There will be no photography of nudity in rehearsal or performance.