Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Kiss is Just a Kiss...

... particularly when it is a stage kiss.

My husband, in our 11 years of marriage, has had to witness me kissing at minimum 8 other men. Which is actually fairly low, for an actress of my age, but I am not exactly the ingenue type.

When we first got married he needed to know ALL the details of any kissing in a play. I would have to outline every move so that he would know what to expect. I learned this, and respected it. I tried to be completely upfront with him about EVERYTHING, so there would be no surprises when he came to see the show.

I ran into problems with this in our second year of marriage. I did a show where in one scene I had to take off a fair amount of my clothes, as well as a fair amount of my partner's clothes (in great kudos to the costume designer and the director they dressed us and directed us in such a way that a lot of clothes ended up on the floor and yet we were still quite decent) push him onto a bed, kiss all the way up his stomach and on to his lips (while describing a lawsuit our characters were working on). I described this scene to my husband in painstaking detail. Yet after the show he was upset with me. But, as he told it, not about that scene. No, he was upset about another scene where our characters appeared in flashback. We were playing ourselves at 8, and I was wearing overalls and my hair was in pigtails. I pecked my partner quickly on the lips and SKIPPED offstage. My husband was ANGRY that I left that kiss out when I told him about the play.

At first I was bewildered. Was he really bothered by that peck and skip? And what I realized was that no, he was not. He was bothered by the other scene. But, because I had told him about it, he could not openly be upset with me about it. I had forgotten all about the peck and skip, because it seemed so irrelevant. Yet because I had failed to warn him, he could be upset about it.

I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to watch him kiss another woman. He's not an actor, so I will never be put in that position. And I think, because I am an actress, that if he were an actor I would see it for what it is - playing a part - and not worry about it. But it still must be really weird. So once I realized what was behind the anger at the peck and skip, I simply apologized and let it go.

My husband has relaxed about the stage kisses I have quite a bit over the years, although there was one show where he came opening night and then again at our closing 6 weeks later. When I asked him how the show had changed and grown his only comment was "You guys kissed a lot more." Which, when I thought about it, was true. As we as actors got more comfortable with each other we became more playful on stage.

But a stage kiss is truly JUST that... a stage kiss. When you're working in a small theatre, or in interactive theatre where you are sharing a dance floor with the audience, you have to actually KISS the other person. No hand over the mouth as you dip them back nonsense they teach you in high school. The first time it has to be done is rehearsal is usually terribly awkward, since you often don't know the other person very well. You feel a really strange pressure to both really impress, but not impress TOO much so that they think YOU are kissing them and not your character. You worry about whether the director thinks it is believable or not. Is there "chemistry"?

I did a commercial that had me lying in bed with another man, both of us looking miserable from our colds. More people asked me if my husband was bothered by this. I laughed at them. Laying in bed in flannel pajamas next to another man was one of the most innocent things I've had to do in my acting career. And what the viewer doesn't see are the 20 technicians in the room with us and the camera on a crane hovering over our heads. It was not a romantic moment to say the least, particularly since it was an ad for cold medicine and not, say, K-Y Jelly.

But this weekend will be a first for both of us. My first stage kiss with a girl. He seemed completely unconcerned when I told him (in the long learned spirit of full disclosure). To be honest, it's a real STAGE kiss, in that we don't actually kiss. It's not quite the hand over the mouth trick, but it is a bit of hide and seek. And for me, honestly, it's not a big deal. First of all, I have no problems with women kissing each other, even if it's not MY orientation. Secondly, I'm an actress. If I can kiss a man I don't love on stage, what is any different about kissing a woman? Nothing. Except the fact that we were the ONLY two women in the cast willing to do it. And now my fellow actress is convinced the director thinks we are lesbians. Which I disagree with COMPLETELY, but even if he does, so what?

One of the joys of any kiss on the stage is that I get to relive that sort of giddy first kiss moment, or play out a romance that is just not part of my real life. And, if my husband is like the media likes to portray most men, perhaps this will play out a bit of his own fantasy. At the very least, I feel certain he won't be angry about it this time around.

40 comments:

Family Adventure said...

I'm sure my husband would be A-OKAY with that, too.

Like I've said before, this world is so different to mine, it's really interesting to read about it. I can't really imagine kisses being all that difficult to do, but sex scenes might get a little more awkward?

Heidi

another good thing said...

I think Americans make way too much of girl- girl kisses. My Euro frined hold hands, kiss me freely and no one thinks anything of it. I kiss my girlfriends on the lips, and it is friendly pecking, cutesy little "thank yous" there is absolutely nothing sexual about it. That would be like thinking you can't kiss your son on the lips after a certain age...
I can appreciate the "stage" life, and love how you laid it out for us. I had to explain to a boyfriend once after a photo shoot as a model in the 80's that I wasn't "into" the guy in the scene- it was just a pose- a half-naked, lusty pose.. but a pose just the same.
Will you post photos of the show? Or info? or is that a secret?

Suz said...

I've wondered about marriages and stage-kissing when I've seen plays and really enjoyed this explanation of it!

Julie Pippert said...

I dated an actor for a bit. It is a bit disconcerting because, well, he was a really good actor and it was VERY convincing. I think I usually left behind my feelings in the theater, which is where he left his acting, too.

But, I was obnoxious anyway sometimes because, well, he'd get around his fellow cast members and just be so alive, he really loved acting and theater and all that. And THAT I felt jealous about because really, there was no place for me in there, and I was immature still enough to be bothered.

Anyway wooh you not me LOL.

This was awesome. A really great look into and explanation of stage kissing and how it affects people.

Julie
Using My Words

Kathryn said...

I swear one of my VERY serious relationships in the past ended partially because of all the stage kisses he had to witness. I think it made him insecure thinking that if I can kiss those guys in front of all those people I could easily do the same thing in private without him knowing about it.
My hubby has already said that if I do get back into theater he REALLY doesn't want me to kiss anyone. I completely respect that. It just might be difficult seeing as how I used to play the romantic leads. Course, by the time I get back into theater maybe I can play the more matronly roles. ??
As for kissing another woman, I'm sure my hubby would have no problem with me doing that. Stinker. I wouldn't have a prob with it either, because like you said, acting is acting. What's the big deal?

jen said...

i suppose getting to make out with men and women on stage is one of the best parts about acting in general. (as long as they are good kissers, that is)

Victoria said...

Yeah, my Hubby would likely be fine with the girl/girl kiss. Which would tick me off! LOL! I wouldn't be disturbed that the director thinks me a lesbian...but that he thinks of the *two of us* as lesbians. Men are weird like that, no?

At any rate, this side of your life is fascinating!

Alpha DogMa said...

This was an interesting post - because I have often wondered about the dynamics of onscreen kisses, and romance. I -- being of the jealous persuasion -- would have difficulties watching my partner onstage.

What do your young carpool friends think of the kiss?

Heidi Hyde said...

Aw hell-- a kiss IS just a kiss. Kind of like butts- you've seen one you've seen 'em all. ;)

Just kidding. I think it would be difficult to watch a spouse-- but as long as the weren't cuddly (as sometimes people can be when they've been working long hours on a play together) it'd be ok with me.

-HH

Rimarama said...

What a fascinating post, PM!

niobe said...

Interesting. I wonder if there would be a visible difference in the quality of the kiss if the two people were genuinely attracted to each other. Maybe not, if they're good enough actors.

Mac and Cheese said...

I like that you have the "full disclosure" tactic as a means of diffusing any marital issues that may arise. Despite your knowing that it is just a kiss, I can see it being a real problem for a non-actor.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This was a really interesting post and definitely a difficulty for those who aren't in the acting field to understand. Just don't get cast in "Spring Awakening" any time soon, lol.

I was supposed to design lights for a stock version of "Oh Calcutta" when I was 17, and my parents pulled me from the production...

Jennifer said...

I'm not sure my husband would be so okay with witnessing stage kisses. He's not a jealous person -- that's not an issue for either of us -- but I think to actually see it would be tough for him.

Girl-girl kisses though? He'd probably be fine.

Men. Ha.

Amanda said...

I always hated kissing onstage, the dynamic trumped my usual ease on stage and always left me skittish and slightly queasy. I do miss the butterflies of working on stage, or even just being backstage when the lights went up.

On another note, thanks for the ocmment about the load time on my blogs, I wonder, if you have a chance could you visit again? I've dropped several blog roll things that I hope will speed load time. Thanks!

carrie said...

I don't think I know of a man who wouldn't be fine with their wife kissing another woman --

Good luck! :)

SusieJ said...

What a juicy post. You have sure opened a can of worms with this one!! But, what a guy to sit through all those kisses. That would be hard for any guy -- except for the woman thing.

Jenn said...

You get to kiss people as part of your job?

...off to sign up for acting classes.

crazymumma said...

darling. I bet you he has a bit of a fantasy thing.

But really who doesn't have some sort of a fantasy going on?

Amy Y said...

I want that job too! :)
I think kissing women is very enjoyable... even though that's not my orientation either. Too bad it's just a stage kiss and not the real deal!

Thanks for another entertaining post! :) :)

WorksForMom said...

Did you get to kiss Brad Pitt or George Clooney yet? :) Wow, this post was so fun to read MP. I have OFTEN wondered this very thing. So this was so interesting.

flutter said...

he is such a good sport :)

Tracey said...

Shoot, I'd kiss a girl if it meant I could get back on the stage...

blooming desertpea said...

I've always wonder how that feels to kiss someone on stage and how it affects the partner. Thank you for the fantasticly written documentary ...

Jen M. said...

I'm telling you - your life is amazing to me. I could no more imagine getting onstage and doing what you do -- truly awesome.

And, from yesterday's post - Tuesdays are our bad days,too. I actually read that there is an atrological meaning behind this (if you're into that, and I am and I'm not) and it has something to do with Tuesday being a Mercury day? Maybe someone else out there knows why....

Just Seeking said...

I agree with Jen M. your life is amazing! And your husband is a Saint with a capital S. Mine would die a slow, slow death, I think, with every kiss!

Beck said...

My husband is henceforth never allowed to become an actor.

Catherine said...

WOW! that is FASCINATING!! What a story...what a job! :)

So, is this a commercial we might have seen??

catherine

b*babbler said...

What an incredibly interesting post. I've always wondered about the whole stage-kiss thing behind the scenes, particularly when one partner isn't an actor.

I do have to admit that that I can see the little bit of a thrill you could get from having those giddy feelings all over again.

slouching mom said...

Love this post, and wish I could see you act and sing.

Alex Elliot said...

That was so interesting! I always wondered how actors and actresses handled kissing.

Christine said...

i liked this post and the insight into romance/non-romance on the stage.

makes me wonder how i would feel if it were me watching the hubs.

Mad Hatter said...

What with being married to an actor/director, this is all water off a duck's back for me. Acting is called "acting" for a reason after all. Still, my husband teaches nubile 20-yr-olds and sometimes scripts call for nudity or various stages of undress. Once I got used to this idea I was fine with it but I am always fearful of the Oleana backlash and what that might mean for his career.

soccer mom in denial said...

What I love about this post is the sheer joy you clearly get from acting, from being another person for a brief time.

The kissing is a bonus.

Joe/the guy who gets jealous said...

my girlfriend is currently at callbacks for ivy in Bare. 2 of the guys called back for jason are straight, and two are gay. she has to kiss all of them during the callback.

I'm an actor too. it's where we met. I told her that i'm not comfortable with her kissing a straight guy, and she basically said she's doing it anyway. I am going to be in the same show, though I am no longer at the callbacks to at least be able to watch (i think its worse not to)

I think it will be worse to be in a relationship with her and be in the show and have to watch her kiss another guy than it would be to end the relationship.

I want to at least give her the option of leaving the show (kind of the ultimatum). Acting is neither of our careers, we do it as part of a college student group. she's going into natural resource management, and this will be her last show. any advice? if it doesn't show my email, try me at jnatale *@* udel ***.edu, without the stars. don't know if that's against the rules here or not. any feed back is appreciated. thanks

goddessredlady said...

Hi Joe,

I think you've got to go with your gut instinct. My partner is looking into getting into acting and I know it's not to wear tights and do Shakespeare - know what I mean? I actually think you have to be quite selfish to do something like this against your partner's wishes. I studied drama for a few years and I understand 'playing a part' but I also understand the perks of the job. For me, we'll be going our seperate ways.

good luck

Chaylse said...

Good for people to know.

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