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Arts/Culture

Intimacy in STAGE KISS follows a new direction

STAGE KISS billboard
Irish Classical Theatre Company
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STAGE KISS runs through April 24 at Irish Classical Theatre.

As audience members, we take for granted the physical connection between actors during a scene in which they kiss or embrace or engage in any kind of physical content. While the professionals make the interactions seem natural, there can be "bad experiences," says Anna Krempholtz, retained by the Irish Classical Theatre Company to serve as their first Intimacy Director for the production of STAGE KISS.

Krempholtz chooses not to elaborate on the uncomfortable moments and encounters of her acting career, but says, "I think any actor or theater professional will be able to relate with that, unfortunately."

Running through April 24, the narrative for STAGE KISS features over 30 kisses among many actors. The company chose to retain Krempholtz to help them work through the scenes.

"My goal as the intimacy director is cultivating this new culture that really emphasizes consent and boundaries." said Krempholtz, who held a workshop for the actors to walk through the close contact included in their respective roles. "I do this sort of practice to make sure everyone's on the same page and that we respect every actor, every other professional boundaries in the workspace, because everyone has different boundaries, and they change all the time."

Our conversation offers insight into another facet of how professionals go about their work in film and stage.

"Actors are trained to say yes to everything," Krempholtz said. "There's a certain power structure in this industry, that we're (actors) kind of at the bottom of."

Those traits can lead to problems in the dramatic workspace. Krempholtz wants to provide balance.

"It's okay to say no," she said. "Sometimes I think that's the most valuable thing an actor can have in their toolkit."

Tracie Lane and Guy Balotine are the leads in the Irish Classical's production of STAGE KISS, so they are at the center of many of the intimate moments.

"They're the greatest team. They're both very seasoned actors, and I can really trust them," Krempholtz said. "They were both so open and curious and respectful of all of the workouts and material I was presenting to them."

Intimacy director is on the Krempholtz resume'. As is actor and fight coordinator.

"So a fight choreographer is called into production to support it in any way, where there's any kind of physical violence on stage, if the text calls for it, or the production decides that the storytelling leads in that direction," said Krempholtz as she compared the two positions. "An intimacy director comes in, in the same reason for any material that has to do with sensitive materials such as sex, gender, and even racially charged moments."