Nudity in Theatre

My girlfriend is in a professional production of Dante’s Inferno, and she has been asked to go topless for the 9th circle, which is about the sin of abusing sex. She is Catholic and is morally conflicted about whether this is right or wrong. The point of the piece is to show how it is evil, and about the consequences of abusing this gift, and supposedly it’s done very tasteful and artistic way. However, it’s not modest, and not ‘her’ at all, and I guess in a selfish way it totally bothers me that she would be exposed like that in front of so many people night after night and week after week. She wants my advice, as a Catholic, but since I am also her boyfriend, I have trouble looking at this objectively. As an artist, I can see how it could be a worthy, important part to play, and how it could be permissible, but as her boyfriend, I just can’t keep an objective perspective on this. I want to support whatever she does, I just don’t know if this is really ‘wrong’ or if I’m just bothered by it because of our status. Thanks for any advice.

Pray for guidance, and you will realize you know the answer.

No, it doesn’t need to be done. There may be some artistic value in it, but that doesn’t make it right. I would say she shouldn’t do it. Abusing the sexuality of a woman, by exposing her body to someone other than her husband/doctor is not a good way to show people that you shouldn’t abuse the sexuality of a woman by having her expose her body.
I would say it is partially analogous to saying spousal abuse is bad, now watch me beat my wife so that you can see it is bad. Some people may be more encouraged in their belief that spousal abuse is horrible, but that doesn’t make me beating my wife okay.

Amen to that.

A writer requesting an actress go topless for theatrical effect leads me to the conclusion that he/she is a very unimaginative and lazy writer.

At best.

Totally agree Albert. How is showing your breasts proving that showing your body wrong? Good analogy also.

If the director could let her wear a skin colored halter that might prove the point without contradicting the point.

Definitely. Dante is wonderful, and there is great value in getting his work out to people, but that doesn’t have to be at the cost of immorality…it also kind of defeats the purpose.

Definitely. There are better ways to make a show interesting than nudity, some writers/directors just aren’t creative enough to figure them out.

Why just topless? Why not completely nude? That would be less lusty. Do the males get to go full frontal?

If you were to marry this girl and you guys had children, would you want them to see their mother like this?

No, it’s not a good idea. I’m sure that if you forwarded this question to Jesus, He would not say that women’s breasts were created for any type of entertainment other than the marital embrace and nursing her children…God Bless…teachccd

We have 2 family members who are actors. This type of situation has come up more than once, and has caused a lot problems with the family. What one person considers art another might consider smut. There have been arguments, tears, and hard feelings aplenty. At this point we are all trying to agree to disagree on this issue. I don’t know what the answer is to this.

There are still people around who would gladly support [on principle, at least] painting boxers and bras on all of Michelangelo’s nudes in the Sistine Chapel.

I’m not one of them: If the intention is not to titilate, I see nothing wrong with it.

“The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.”

~Pius XII

It may be hard to take a stand against this, but she wouldn’t be alone. Remember, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world for his own soul?”

Somewhat confused…the ninth circle of hell according to Dante is a place where the traitors are punished…not the lustful. It features Satan, Judas, Brutus and Cassius.

Dante uses Paolo and Francesca to describe the lustful, they aren’t nude, they basically cry and lament their fate, all while being tossed around in a terrible windstorm.

The monologue by Francesca is very beautiful poetry.

Artistically, I just don’t see the necessity of being topless.

There is a topless women in another canto, she is being punished with the flatterers. During her life, she had affairs with various men for gifts, all while lying to them, telling them they were handsome, young, romantic etc. Her punishment is to be submerged in feces for eternity…not a pretty picture.

I am not familiar with the play, however, most plays don’t need to show nudity. The actress is uncomfortable with the scene and her wishes should be respected.

Most of the Great Films are Great without showing nudity. Suggestion can be much more powerful. Most drama directors that try to get girls to take their clothing off aren’t actually doing it for artistic reasons, though they rationalize it by saying they are. If I were your girlfriend, I would prefer to keep my dignity.

Consider this: (sorry for the caps, I copied this from catholicundergroundla.com/)
FROM JP II’S LETTER TO ARTISTS…
…WITH THIS LETTER, I TURN TO YOU, THE ARTISTS OF THE WORLD, TO ASSURE YOU OF MY ESTEEM AND TO HELP CONSOLIDATE A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN ART AND THE CHURCH. MINE IS AN INVITATION TO REDISCOVER THE DEPTH OF THE SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS DIMENSION WHICH HAS BEEN TYPICAL OF ART IN ITS NOBLEST FORMS IN EVERY AGE. IT IS WITH THIS IN MIND THAT I APPEAL TO YOU, ARTISTS OF THE WRITTEN AND SPOKEN WORD, OF THE THEATRE AND MUSIC, OF THE PLASTIC ARTS AND THE MOST RECENT TECHNOLOGIES IN THE FIELD OF COMMUNICATION. I APPEAL ESPECIALLY TO YOU, CHRISTIAN ARTISTS: I WISH TO REMIND EACH OF YOU THAT, BEYOND FUNCTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS, THE CLOSE ALLIANCE THAT HAS ALWAYS EXISTED BETWEEN THE GOSPEL AND ART MEANS THAT YOU ARE INVITED TO USE YOUR CREATIVE INTUITION TO ENTER INTO THE HEART OF THE MYSTERY OF THE INCARNATE GOD AND AT THE SAME TIME INTO THE MYSTERY OF MAN. HUMAN BEINGS, IN A CERTAIN SENSE, ARE UNKNOWN TO THEMSELVES. JESUS CHRIST NOT ONLY REVEALS GOD, BUT “FULLY REVEALS MAN TO MAN”. IN CHRIST, GOD HAS RECONCILED THE WORLD TO HIMSELF. ALL BELIEVERS ARE CALLED TO BEAR WITNESS TO THIS; BUT IT IS UP TO YOU, MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE GIVEN YOUR LIVES TO ART, TO DECLARE WITH ALL THE WEALTH OF YOUR INGENUITY THAT IN CHRIST THE WORLD IS REDEEMED: THE HUMAN PERSON IS REDEEMED, THE HUMAN BODY IS REDEEMED, AND THE WHOLE CREATION WHICH, ACCORDING TO SAINT PAUL, “AWAITS IMPATIENTLY THE REVELATION OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD” (ROM 8:19), IS REDEEMED. THE CREATION AWAITS THE REVELATION OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD ALSO THROUGH ART AND IN ART. THIS IS YOUR TASK. HUMANITY IN EVERY AGE, AND EVEN TODAY, LOOKS TO WORKS OF ART TO SHED LIGHT UPON ITS PATH AND ITS DESTINY.

AAAAAAmen

Big “If” in the OP’s scenario.

I agree with Albert, as a bit of an aside, especially the ways movies are made nowadays. I saw an older movie on TV, forget what it was about, but the leading man and woman go into the bedroom, and that’s all you see. We know what happens. It’s almost insulting that the directors feel a need to show us simulated “lovemaking” scenes. Either they feel we’re too stupid to figure it out, they’re too stupid or lazy to craft a scene where they put our imagination to work, or they just want to tillilate their audience.

The same or better artistic effect could be obtained with a skin tone silk body suit that give a subtle artificiality appearance that diminishes beauty. This is what one would expect in hell.

I am not familiar with the part she is playing but it sure sounds to me like this is more of a presentation than it is an acting part. If that is the case the director might as well have used a cheap plastic manakin or plastic stage prop that removes beauty and over emphasizes (perhaps in grotesque tattooed super-jumbo size) the breasts as an object seperate from the person. Again, this is more like what one would expect in hell.

I suspect that the producer is really just using the marketing alure that “there will be real live topless women” in his play to draw more young men to the show.

Quite frankly, it does not sound like it is a part that is likely to enhance her resume. So she should consider denying it as beneath her talents. If she accepts these shallow and useless acting roles that’s all she us going to get in the future. If they want a topless dummy they could just as easily go hire a silicon-boob chick with a painted on smile at the local topless dancer club .

Just my 2 cents.

James

Unfortunately, I disagree with the last poster who said this wouldn’t look good on her resume. It would be beneficial to her career if she is willing to take “risks”. Is she a college student, or a person with a theater degree and this is a paying job? Like I said before, our family has so many arguments over this stuff. I do think there would be a way to dress her that would actually make her look nude, but she really would be covered. I have seen these types of costumes in other shows. I personally would think it is okay to do this because of the message of the show, but I would have a hard time doing it unless I was wearing a costume of some sort.

It is very difficult to maintain an informed conscience in this business. The pressure is enormous within the theatre community to not just conform to but to push the decline of values. The environment messes with your head. Sex and sensuality is “art”, moral depravity is “edgy” and both are considered goals to aspire to. Anyone who avoids sexual immorality is considered “repressed”. It is very tempting to make moral comprises so as not to appear “extreme” or worse to hurt your career. Practicing the Catholic faith means being different, turning down work and putting up with having your values mocked all the time.

The right thing for her to do is refuse to perform topless.

Daddums :slight_smile:

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