Okay, so I’m directing this play called ALMOST, MAINE. It’s a quirky comedy about couples—and coupling. Now I have been directing for 20 years and it occurred to me today that I have only directed a couple of love scenes.
It’s a very odd situation for all concerned. “Hi, nice to meet you, let’s make out.” AWWKWARD!
You try to be sensitive to people’s boundaries and ease into it as rehearsals progress, but still…. It has to be handled delicately. I’ve tried to do the first couple of rehearsals of these scenes with only the people involved there so they can get comfortable. Of course, there’s lots of nervous laughter—and lines forgotten after the kissing ends. Then you have the mechanics of making it look natural but stage-worthy. Sight-lines can be a bitch for these things.
And worrying about whose nose goes where and having no space between the actors—but not looking “porny”—takes all of the romance out of it. Trust me. Back when I was young and hot, I got a lot of these parts. My husband took it in stride, god bless him. There was only one time it freaked him out a bit. It was a scene about a young couple heavily making out at a restaurant table as the waiter gives this page long monologue, with lines like “Well you two definitely don’t need the oysters.” The topper was that we'd come out of this long clinch like we'd just pecked across the table--and ask for the check. Got big laughs every night. I had warned hubby what to expect, but it was too much for him in person.
When I did The Owl & The Pussycat several years back, there was a scene where Felix, the male lead, was nibbling on Doris’ [me] neck as he tried to convince himself it was her mind he was attracted to. He was supposed to get a couple of nibbles on each side and then the lights would go out. Well during tech week—which is right before you open and you’re practically living at the theatre—the guy running the light board fell asleep…. I finally had to break character and call out to him—my co-star was way too “in the moment.”
Nowadays, I get “matronly” roles. Why don’t playwrights write love scenes for people over the age of 50—do they think we don’t know how anymore?