Indiana Daily Student

IU theater department conducts intimacy workshop

<p>Certified Intimacy Director Samantha Kaufman led the &quot;Intro to Intimacy for the Stage&quot; workshop Nov. 8, 2021, in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. The workshop taught actors about consent and boundaries in terms of on-stage intimacy.</p>

Certified Intimacy Director Samantha Kaufman led the "Intro to Intimacy for the Stage" workshop Nov. 8, 2021, in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. The workshop taught actors about consent and boundaries in terms of on-stage intimacy.

Confidence, patience, balance. 

These are just a few words participants shared about what they learned at a theater intimacy workshop, a workshop discussing consent and boundaries through onstage intimacy.

The IU Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance conducted an intimacy workshop Monday night in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center that was open to the public. 

Intimacy director Samantha Kaufman led the “Intro to Intimacy for the Stage” workshop. Kaufman is a certified intimacy director and was certified with Intimacy Directors International, according to her website. She teaches this workshop at universities and organizations across the country.  

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Intimacy is anything on a stage that includes hyper exposure, nudity or simulated sexual acts, Kaufman said. The purpose of an intimacy workshop is to give people the basic tools for communication of boundaries and consent they need to feel comfortable, she said. 

“Even if people have been exposed to it, it's still a good thing to practice and learn techniques for communication and the different language tools that you can use in spaces to be able to create a consent-based space,” Kaufman said. 

The workshop was broken up into three separate hour-long sections involving group exercises dealing with ideas of consent, closure and boundaries for both stage settings and real life. 

The first section featured an exercise called “consent gym” where participants stood in a circle and took turns switching places within the circle. They talked about the idea of yes and no and the connotations with each word. For example, Kaufman talked about how people in positions of power will ask questions expecting a “yes.”

The second section started with Kaufman explaining the different types of boundaries: emotional, physical, intellectual, sexual and energetic. Everyone took time to write their boundaries for each category. After, they partnered up and shared some of their boundaries while their partner recited theirs back.

The third section focused on the topic of stage kissing. Through roleplaying Romeo and Juliet, participants built their story and then tapped into an acting space where they would act out a kiss by touching palms instead. 

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During the workshop, Kaufman would take time to have participants pick up and put down their feet, center themselves, inhale and then exhale. She said this method comes from DE-CRUIT and is a technique developed with psychologists and therapists as a way to help ground people and calm the sympathetic nervous system.

“That activity helps ground people back into who they are by literally grounding ourselves from putting our feet down by literally centering ourselves and becoming mindful of our existence, and then breathing to help calm that sympathetic nervous system,” Kaufman said. 

Kaufman said she uses this technique whenever she feels like the room’s anxieties are getting high. 

While all intimacy workshops are different, Kaufman said these workshops are important in general.  

“Theater is about the stuff that goes wrong and the high emotional state of being human,” Kaufman said. “So when you're telling stories that are really involved or take us to places that can be harmful or dangerous, it's really important to have a structure in place for support but also language to support those moments.”

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