Intimacy Coach Megan Piercey Monafu on creating healthy boundaries in intimate moments

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Megan Piercey Monafu is a director, facilitator, producer, and playwright. Trained in Forum Theatre, community development, and a variety of facilitation methods, she specializes in drama work for sensitive populations and situations, leading workshops, classes, and scene work in communities and organizations in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and the Maritimes. She also happens to be our Playwright in Residence.

We asked Megan to work with us in several rehearsals of Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) to help create our intimacy choreography. Read Megan’s guest blog below for more on her role as an Intimacy Coach.

Post by Megan Piercey Monafu

My role as Intimacy Coach on Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) is to help to create a safe space for the actors and director to stage intimate scenes between the characters. Many audience members wonder, how do actors deal with kissing or otherwise being intimate with a colleague, night after night? Having an Intimacy Coach or Intimacy Director can be an important part of answering that question in a healthy way, by helping to set appropriate boundaries in rehearsal, helping actors set their own emotional boundaries, and working with the team to create clear, effective choreography for intimate moments.

An important aspect of intimacy coaching is to ensure that there is consent in the rehearsal process. Actors learn ways to ask for ongoing consent from each other for all physical contact, so that they can offer creative suggestions while respecting each others’ boundaries.

As the Intimacy Coach, I check in with the cast and director often to ensure that the choreography is working for all of them. If there are any concerns, I facilitate dialogue around re-working the choreography and assist the actors in doing so.

This may sound like a passionless process for creating scenes of passion, and in a way, it is! We don’t want actors to have to develop a passion for each other in order to create passion between their characters. The beauty of intimacy choreography is that it actually gives actors the tools they need to take risks. Each moment of intimacy is calculated and rehearsed to sharpen the storytelling and create the best possible audience experience, so that audiences won’t sense a lack of passion at all—quite the opposite.

A challenge of the intimate scenes of Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) is that they portray a romantic relationship that, due to the age of the characters, is by definition non-consensual. The play takes place at the scene of this crime, and shows both characters as complex human beings with desires both noble and carnal, who approach each other in both love and selfishness.

Choreographing the intimate scenes to show this delicate dance is a challenge for all involved, and actors Erica Anderson and Geoff McBride have been doing amazing work in studio to bring the full complexity of these characters to life.

See you at the show!