Over the years, I’ve learned that stage kissing and bedroom scenes onstage just aren’t a big deal. It does not have to be a source of anxiety if everyone practices respect and proper stage etiquette. Here are a few tips to help keep stage kissing and intimacy easy and stress-free:
1. Practice good hygiene. Help your stage partner out by practicing good hygiene. Don’t forget the deodorant. Shower if you’re coming to rehearsal after a workout. If you know you’ll be rehearsing an intimate scene, bring along toothpaste or mouthwash. Re-think eating those Cool Ranch Doritos or garlic chicken; it can probably wait until you are done staging. You’d think this would be a given, but I’ve experienced some of these offenders personally, and you don’t want to be one of them.
2. Ditch the lipstick. Do not wear lipstick that easily transfers on days when you are rehearsing kissing scenes, or even during shows. L’Oreal infallible lip stain is one brand that does not transfer if you must be wearing something. Neither you nor your partner looks fabulous with lipstick or sticky lip-gloss all over your face. Stick to ChapStick or use a stain that will not transfer.
3. Get into character and communicate. You don’t have to go all out every time, but as you get closer to show time, the more you practice, the more comfortable you will be. Remember, you are characters in a show. It does not matter whether one or both of you is gay, straight, married, partnered, or whether you are kissing someone of the same sex, or anything else that may be a first for you or make you uncomfortable in real life. You’re there, on stage, playing characters. Step out of yourself and into your character. If you have been marking an intimate scene, communicate to your partner when you want to go for it. That way everyone is prepared and on the same page. This is something you can work out with your stage partner. You don’t need a director to do this for you.
4. Don’t fake it. I’ve had directors ask if my stage partner and I want to do a “fake stage kiss” as opposed to a real one. It is my opinion that kissing on stage does not work like stage combat. A kiss looks like a kiss. A fake kiss looks like a fake kiss. Nothing is more awkward for the audiences than seeing a romantic stage couple “hug passionately” where a kiss should be or go into an obvious “non-kiss” with someone’s head to the audience. If you are feeling awkward or nervous about a stage kiss, remember, faking it will be awkward for the hundreds or thousands of people watching you. It’s not a big deal to kiss someone on stage. Don’t fake it.
5. Stay in character and commit. Stay in character at all times. Your partner may forget their lines. They may be singing loudly in your ear. They may be sweating. They may be standing over you and sweating onto you. These are the times you will be reminded just how clinical stage kissing and intimacy are. Commit. Keep things believable for your audience who doesn’t know what it is like to hear a tenor singing a high C in your ear or sweating directly into your eye.
6. And Finally… No tongue. Enough said!