FAQ & Resources
What is theatrical intimacy and intimacy direction?
Theatrical intimacy is the presentation of intimate material on stage (or in film, print, and other media) including, but not limited to: sexual actions, nudity, kissing, stripping, and sexual violence. Intimacy direction is the art form of facilitating artists in the thoughtful creation and presentation of intimate material on stage; intimacy coordination is the term used for the same role in tv and film.
At PNW TI we believe that intimacy is culturally-specific, and therefore the circumstances of the story, the cultural backgrounds of the creative team, and the context in which the play is presented are all crucial elements that define the intimacy in a play and the role of the intimacy director in the creative process.
Other definitions and explanations of intimacy and intimacy direction:
Five Pillars of Intimacy by Intimacy Directors International
More discussion of the nuances and applications of the artform:
Articles from Howlround, including an overview of the Art and Craft of Intimacy Direction, a discussion of Intimate Reform with specific attention on artists of color, and a piece on Intimacy Direction in the Time of Physical Distance
Video discussion of “Intimacy Design” from Heartland Intimacy Design
Discussion of intimacy direction as a growing art form from Berkshire Fine Arts
Who is PNW TI?
We are a collective of theatrical intimacy professionals working across the Pacific Northwest who advocate for best practices in order to foster a culture of care, consent, and healthy boundaries by educating local theatre artists and organizations and building pathways of connection amongst our community of intimacy professionals.
What does PNW TI value?
Community - the intentional gathering of a group of people.
Intersectionality - the overlapping aspects of identity that make individuals unique and valuable.
Sustainability - the beliefs and practices that promote life-giving action.
Advocacy - the use of power for the benefit of others.
Returning to Theatre with Enthusiastic Consent
Can I hire one of you?
Click here for our contact page to get in touch with us. You can also find and learn more about local intimacy directors near you via our members database. We recommend reaching out to members on our list directly for additional information about their professional experience and creative process and to find the right fit for your production’s needs. PNW TI does not collectively endorse specific members for specific jobs, but we’re happy to help connect you with our network.
Want to know if you should hire an Intimacy Director for your production? See below for some pointers.
How can I tell if an Intimacy Director is qualified?
Experience and training in intimacy direction and theatre
Personal philosophy in creating intimacy choreography and consent-based spaces
Specific practices in building a culture of consent, collaboration, and creating intimacy choreography
Referral from professionals and collaborators in the field
Intersection of cultural competencies and intimate content (i.e Is this the right person for this show?)
We believe that qualification is the most important part of being an intimacy professional.
Intimacy direction is still a new field and there has not yet been an industry-wide, unifying conversation to establish the criteria for certification.
There are many ways to be qualified. Certification is one way to make sure that everyone doing a particular job has the appropriate level of skill and training. This can work well in some industries and create solid levels of safety, but in other areas it can be a way to uphold White Supremacist values, even unintentionally. Those of us who are certified have done so with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators through their own certification system.
For further reading, please explore Chelsea Pace’s excellent article, The Certification Question. Also, SAG/AFTRA has a list of recommended competencies and trainings.
Can PNW TI train me to be an Intimacy Director?
PNW TI offers workshops around intimacy best practices for theaters and theater practitioners, but we are not currently a training organization. The intimacy directors affiliated with PNW TI have studied with many different organizations, pursued their own studies pertinent to the field, and worked in theatres around the region.
See below for resources on becoming an intimacy director!
Can I join PNW TI?
If you are currently an intimacy director or training to become one and you’re interested in joining PNW TI, click here to contact us.
When and how did intimacy direction become a thing?
Intimacy has been present onstage for as long as people have been performing. While many excellent directors, choreographers, movement directors, and other specialists have fostered processes that encourage consent-based creativity, the formalization of intimacy direction as a field is relatively young. Early organizations like Intimacy Directors International evolved from research and practices developed in the early 2000s; since about 2016, strong calls for better abuse prevention systems, increased attention to the mental health and wellness of artists, and a rise in anti-patriarchal forms of theatre making have brought intimacy direction to the fore of a broader shift in equitable theatre practices. While much of the media coverage around theatrical intimacy has focused on strides made in film, theatre companies of all sizes across the country now also regularly bring in intimacy directors for all kinds of productions.
Check out these resources for a greater understanding of the conditions that brought intimacy direction forward and how it has evolved since.
When should I hire an Intimacy Director?
There is no hard and fast rule for when to hire an intimacy director. The answer depends on the complexity of the physical storytelling required, the cultural context of the play, and who you already have on your creative team. We’ve created a resource at the bottom of the page that may help you think further about your show’s intimacy direction needs, or check out the links below for additional context on when and how to hire an intimacy director.
Who else is doing this work?
There are many organizations that do great work around theatrical intimacy. Some provide education, some offer Intimacy Directors for hire, some only work on stage or in film, and some do a combination of things. Here are a few we are connected to:
How can I become an Intimacy Director or build these practices into my work?
If you are interested in becoming an intimacy director we recommend pursuing training with the organizations listed above. If you are currently an intimacy director or in the process of training to become one, and you’re interested in joining PNW TI, click here to contact us.
Start by checking out these resources as well!
Books + Articles + Talks:
Staging Sex: Best Practices, Tools, and Techniques for Theatrical Intimacy
Using Intimacy Direction to Create a Culture of Consent post-COVID
Dance Magazine Article: We Need to Talk about Non-Consensual Audience Participation
Immersive theatre may be sexy - but we need to start talking about consent
Organizational protocols put in place by other groups and unions.
DEIA training organizations: