Many people ask me how did you start? How did you get into these roles? What training did you do?
Well, the truth of the matter is, everyone's journey is their own. And companies offering training in intimacy for performance have varying views on what skills those roles require.
All I can offer is a snippet of the start of my journey. So think of this as a mini retrospective outlining in brief the practitioners I met in the beginning of my path, productions where I started using contemporary intimacy practice (rather than just doing it as I would approach movement direction or fight direction).
The below names mentioned don't mean to say that others weren't there in the UK industry, it only means that they didn't affect my learning and exposure to this work at that time.
I first started working as a fight director and movement director in theatre and dance. My first proper credited paid-job as a fight & movement director was in 2007 on the marvellous play 'A Skull In Connemara' by Martin McDonagh performed in a Fringe London venue.. Like other practitioners, I slowly worked my way up the professional ladder from fringe productions to main theatre houses. I was super lucky to be taken on as the fight director for Michelle Terry's Hamlet and As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing at The Shakespeare's Globe all in 2018. These shows really opened my path to working collaborativly in bigger venues.
In conjunction, I had several jobs in film as a Special Action Performer and Fight Choreographer/Fight Arranger. So it gave me an understanding of the on set culture and the big differences in practice.
Similar to many movement directors and fight directors, I can also say that within my work I dealt with intimate storytelling way before the timeline described below. Not once have I come in as a fight director and been asked to "help with this moment" suddenly realising it was a kiss or a making-out action. Back then, directors expected the 'movement people' to support any type of movement in the rehearsal room. That was part of past practice. However I think it is vital to draw a line between my practice before I studied contemporary intimacy practice and my experience after that. For in my opinion, past intimacy practice is definitely not the same. Some aspects might be similar but the techniques and equipment have developed and the level of research has deepen.
I attended a 3 hour workshop taught by Lizzy Talbot introducing intimacy to directors (including her 'intensity scale' and intro to the work of Tonia Sina and IDI in the USA).
After July 2017
Since my interest was ignited, I started to deepen my understanding by researching and experimenting with safety, consent and actor wellbeing in the classes I was teaching at the time (similarly to many other practitioners). There was a boom of interest in those topics also due to the change in our industry.
I joined Theatrical Intimacy. Co-founders were: Lizzy Talbot, Claire Warden and myself.
25 October 2017
Women @ RADA Panel - Listen Up Campaign - I spoke about intimacy practice and Theatrical Intimacy as part of a panel discussing the #MeToo movement and its impact in theatre.
Consultation for with Equity's Agenda For Change.
Although I was already working as a fight director & movement director in high-end theatre venues like The Shakespeare's Globe, Manchester Exchange etc, I actually started my intimacy direction practice in Fringe and Off-West End theatres first. Young directors were the ones really advocating for that work in their rehearsal spaces. Some plays at that time included: Three Sisters (Arrows & Traps Theatre), The Rise & Fall of Little Voice (The Park Theatre), Dracula (Arrows & Traps Theatre), Jerker (King's Head).
A BBC interviewer came to the Dracula rehearsals and interviewed us for BBC Sounds The Art of Intimacy Part 2
I attended the Paddy Crean International Workshop and took intimacy workshops with Alicia Rodis (HBO intimacy coordinator pioneer) and Rachel Flesher.
Alicia's workshops: Seductive Storytelling, Instant Chemistry & Intimacy For the Stage, Consent & Power Dynamics.
Rachel's workshops: Your Body Talks, Mapping the Kiss, Consent in Combat: An introduction to Sexual Domestic Violence
Theatrical Intimacy rebranded to IDI-UK (intimacy Directors International UK) which became a UK branch of Intimacy Directors International USA. We continued the work of promoting intimacy practice in the UK industry.
April 2019 - started my intimacy coordination for TV practice
Adult Material, BBC - prep for block & rehearsals started.
May 2019 - shooting started.
Both Amanda Cutting (Canada) and Alicia Rodis (USA) provided me with initial support to advise me on how to transfer my intimacy direction practice to screen.
17-25 May 2019
I attended the 'Intimacy Choreographers Intensive' in Toronto run by Intimacy Directors International (USA).
Teachers: Tonia Sina, Alicia Rodis, Siobhan Richardson, Claire Warden.
Topics included: consent, power dynamics, staging simulated sex acts, film and intimacy coordination, recommended guidelines, dealing with resistance, sensitivity/mental health in intimacy work.
From April 2019 onwards
Jobs in Intimacy Coordination (screen) and Intimacy Direction (stage).
Adult Material was first and after that followed The Nevers, Spanish Princess, Domina, The Wheel of Time, Carnival Row, Bridgerton Season 1 (cover IC), The Girlfriend Experience, Cheaters.
INTIMASK was born - co-founded the first one stop shop for intimacy garments tailored for the intimacy direction and coordination profession.
BFI London Film Festival - I was part of the panel discussion Close Up: Sex Nudity and Intimacy On Screen to discuss intimacy coordination.
7 October 2019
My rehearsals started for Death of A Salesman, West End Transfer. It marked the first time an Intimacy Director credit was given in the West End and the first show to hire an intimacy director in high-end theatre.
I joined an extended (November-April) intimacy coordination training taught by Alicia Rodis (HBO Intimacy Coordinator Liaison). Students included worldwide intimacy coordinators and I was amongst the 3 from the UK.
Late 2019 - April 2020
I was the education manager and co-tutor for the intimacy directors training run by Intimacy Directors International UK branch. We trained a group of intimacy directors to work in theatre.
My company Moving Body Arts opened the Intimacy Coordination Programme for Underrepresented Groups (funded by the Film & Charity BAME Community Fund).
I started working as an Intimacy Director for Rambert Dance Company.
I started working on Punchdrunk's The Burnt City, London company.
Started working as Intimacy Director for Hamilton London Company.
I started rehearsals with A Strange Loop musical in London. They decided to work with an intimacy director for the first time (they didn't have one for their New York run) and I loved it!
Like many, I have also kept an ongoing self-study journey, taking workshops with Theatrical Intimacy Education, Intimacy Professionals Association, National Society of Intimacy Practitioners, BIK and workshops with non-intimacy related companies. It is super important to keep your learning fresh and to stay updated.
The rest of my journey grew out of the above experiences.
Not always perfect
Still rumbling with what I want to explore in these roles vs what is possible
But production by production and workshop by workshop and person by person I've learned more about myself, about the creative process, the challenges, what authentic, caring and courageous people feel like and what I value.
Find your own journey, your own adventure, your own compassionate community.
And remember, you don't need anyone's approval to fly upwards.
Copyright 2023, Yarit Dor. All right reserved. If you wish to quote Yarit's blog in your article, research or any other format, you cannot use any of the above out of the context it was originally written. For info on how you can quote from this blog, see: https://janefriedman.com/sample-permission-letter/
Photo: Adult Material (BBC).