Shy Therapy at a Nude Beach

in nsfw •  20 days ago

I’m over at Jen’s for the third day in a row. I accidentally took her medicinal herbs twice now and she thinks I’m looking for an excuse to see her. I just think I’m a bit out of it. I have slept so much over the holidays, giving my body much needed rest from the daily physical activity I get from teaching all these fitness classes.

The play I am about to talk about happened on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh unceded territories.

It is a great opportunity to write about Shy Therapy at a Nude Beach, a play in which we performed together last September. The play was directed by Korky Day who was also the ringleader of our merry band of misfits. He is the inventor of Shy Therapy, an actual thing he does at the nude beach. During the play, the audience served as our beach goers. Some undressed as soon as they arrive which speaks to the appeal of a play like this in the nudist community.

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It was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Jen, deepening our bond throughout the work. We began rehearsing by improvising at the park, exploring different possibilities for our characters. It was a lot to take in all at once: I had landed a part in a nudist play, in which I was to perform as a Mountie character. We debated over why the Mountie, who begins clothed, should decide to undress. This would be very unprofessional of him so it had to come from a believable reason.

Jen was a therapist in training but it was very hard to get a word in with Korky and she jokingly described her part as a non-speaking role. I love the Jen character, an art therapist in training from Adler University. It was fitting that the location was a long rectangular art gallery which complemented her personality seamlessly. But more on that later.

We spent our first rehearsal together in Dude Chilling Park, working through bold character choices. The entire experience already felt surreal as I had just returned from a summer adventure in Montreal and had only accepted the role days before my trip. We decide to make the play our own by taking advantage of the fact that it was described in the Fringe guide as an improv play! What if we were to introduce different story lines, plot twists and cliff hangers from night to night? It was all very exciting.

My favourite storyline was the one where I was worshiping Marilyn our cast mate, calling her a goddess of the sea. I also liked the night where I too was an artist and was able to draw my cast mates. Adam was another key feature of the show that night by bringing a musical peace to the play, which, in sing-along-style, introduce more audience participation.

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Jen claims that the best thing I did for the play was when I recorded the ambient sounds at Wreck Beach, our local nudist beach, to put in our play. I had brought my apogee mic with me to do just that. This was the day of my first encounter with Korky. It just so happens that it was Wreck Beach day which had been postponed by the Smokey season. It was a festive and busy day at the beach. I’m ashamed to say that this was my first time there in 7 years of living in Vancouver. I thought Korky was eccentric - he was adamant that textiles (people wearing clothes) were creating a problem in the nudist community and therefore jeopardizing the future of the beach. It was very important for me to go to this rehearsal as a speaking role, that of the Mountie, because the whole idea of the play was to pretend that the audience were beach goers. This immersion was important because that’s what method acting is all about. It was weird because even though it was explicitly stated that there was to be no pressure for the audience to undress, there were certificates for people who did, so it was rewarded.

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I had issues with some of the ways Korky came across expressing certain ideas. I remember interjecting with a question, if it was ok for a muslim woman to go there nude except for a hijab. Coming from a second wave feminist standpoint, I believe there were areas of inclusion to be improved.

One thing everyone agreed on, was that the audience was central to creating the experience. Korky had decided to record the whole play with two hand held microphones which were tedious to navigate as the wires were constantly tangling up. It also wrecked the illusion of a beach which was a shame. I was given a hula-hoop for my performance but I struggled to find the space to use it. However, I do like a challenge and instead at times I just stood on my head. I made it work with the hula-hoop as well and noticed an improvement from night to night which made it feel like a true journey of growth. By bringing the absurd into the mix, we made sure to keep it hilarious, like an ode to Dadaism. I remember Jen consistently distracting everyone by announcing her need to pee in the ocean or because she saw a seal.

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Korky’s vision was neither murky or clear to me; he made it very difficult to get enough airtime for proper character development but I had to take advantage of the opportunity so I really went all out at every performance.

Each audience member received a program which displayed common questions that are usually asked of nudists. Like for men: what if I get an erection? Or is it ok to take a discreet selfie? Our answers were always creative and sometimes hilarious, but we were drawing from an honest place and from true nudist theory. Sometimes the public would jump in to answer each other’s questions, and that only amplified the chaotic town hall feeling and microphone issues. But our sound girl had our back without a doubt and in true Fringe fashion, we made it work.

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Oh! and we were kicked out of the Fringe after our second night. Check out this hilarious video for a great play by play of those events.

What I liked the most about it all was that it was fundamentally community oriented. People were encouraged to bring personal experiences to the table and although some audiences were pretty shy, no pun intended, we had a lot to work from. Often the first question on people’s minds was: what is Shy Therapy? In short, it is the practice of performing therapy on people to cure them of their textile addiction.

Korky came from a place of important history, a true pioneer tied to the movement’s origins in the late 60s. I would say his approach as a therapist was hard to peg. It was clear that his larger than life personality had yielded results at the beach where nudism is therapy enough but in the context of the play it seemed to be more about raising awareness. Even so, I feel like his convivial strategy was very effective as it gave clear pointers on how to cope with shame around nudity, providing the crowd with a progressive framework. It also turned the public into a real support group.

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There is no doubt in my mind that Korky was eager to make the most of audience participation. In my opinion, the area with most room for improvement is: becoming attentive to others and make them feel validated. He was loud and dismissive at times but also charming and nimble in his own way of addressing different subjects. He handled everything I threw at him very well. For example when I disagreed that nudism equaled anti-patriarchy. He was articulate in his opinion that in a modern context, it is, largely a feminist movement.

He should be proud to have come up with such a strong concept and there is no question that he does it justice. I sincerely hope that he can modernise his persona a little in order to reach younger demographics which could learn a lot from a freedom fighter like him.

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Jen complemented him beautifully as she brought a much more person-centered method, choosing to bring the tools back to the patient. She also successfully made Korky look incredibly good by turning his rather rigid ways into comedy gold. “Oh yes! I can’t wait to hear about breast feeding from a white man” she would say before he reluctantly gave her the floor. She was fiercely witty and the audience loved her. She also brought her dog Levee into the mix which was an absolute hit!

Our vision of creating a safe and playful experience was in some ways very successful but more importantly it opened new paths for us as performing artists. The challenges we encountered provided a tremendous opportunity for growth. I remember going for drinks with Jen after the show. We would laugh for hours about the play because the brilliant absurdity of the moment was simply priceless.

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Hi edouard,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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The pictures are funny as hell :D especially the baseball bat one :)

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I know, I love it too! Thanks for your support!

Great sense of humor and in the same time amazing form of therapy and getting rid of complexes and anxiety. I love the photos and btw, interesting paintings on the backgrounds

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We were really lucky to do the play in an art gallery. You are so right about the complexes, I noticed most of the therapy was around that! A safe space should not be taken for granted and that is what we worked hard to provide!