It’s not every day that we’re the #1 trending topic on Facebook.
Or written about by the Daily News, the Associated Press, three British newspapers (the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Mail), New York Newsday, Metro New York, and countless websites (among others, Huffington Post, Salon, and Jezebel). Oh, and did we mention NBC News?
What caused that storm of attention? Simple. On two beautiful days last week — rain threatened for a while, but what we wound up getting was sun — our merry band put on a show in Central Park. The show was William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, a story of sorcery and conspiracy and romance on a tropical island, and we performed it with an all female cast of 13, fully nude.
“Fully nude?” you ask. “I know it’s legal for women to go topless anywhere in New York a man can, but I didn’t think it was legal for either women or men to go fully nude in public?” Well, under most circumstances that’s so. But there’s an exception to the laws against what’s called “public exposure,” and one of them is if you are performing in an artistic performance. Such as a play. Such as The Tempest by William Shakespeare.
And so we did just that. With eight outstanding actors, three brilliant dancers, and two gifted musicians, we took over the natural stage at Summit Rock (the highest point in Central Park) and for an audience of more than 200 people each time we performed the play. It was marvelous. Yes, we had to compete with sirens and helicopters to be heard at some points. But that’s what it means to perform outdoors in the middle of New York City. And yes, one or two people gawked or made needless, uncomfortable comments — but only one or two. (Far worse was the asshole from the New York Post who blustered around with a pair of giant cameras and ignored repeated requests not to disrupt the show. But fortunately there was only one of him as well.)
The hundreds of other New Yorkers and tourists who joined us on our adventure sat rapt and appreciative, and the end of each performance was greeted by a tempest of thunderous applause. Nothing could have made us happier. Not only did we put on a terrific play, but we proved a point: that the human body is a thing of beauty, not of shame. Not fearful, not dangerous, not troubling. The presence of a dozen naked women on a lawn in Central Park did not cause the sky to fall or the moral fabric of the city to be rent asunder. On the contrary, it probably went a small way toward teaching people that nudity is not inherently very noteworthy at all. What we do with our bodies can be good or bad, praiseworthy or the opposite. But our bodies themselves are just bodies, and deserve nothing but simple respect.
Which is what we received. What a wonderful, wonderful beginning to this glorious summer of 2016! We only wish more of you could have come (though the space was filled to overflowing). And we remind you all: whether you’re a woman or a man, you don’t have to be performing Shakespeare to enjoy a summer day in the park naked from the waist up. Men know this — women too often do not.
And if you are a bold, body-positive woman — or if you’re unsure, maybe even nervous, but you’d like to be one — you can join us and try it in our company. Send us email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us a little about yourself. We’re always happy to expand our ranks. You don’t need to be an actress, a dancer or a musician. You just need to have a body, and a desire to be free.
We have our own magical island. It’s called Manhattan. And we would love for you to join us there, as naked as the law allows.