NYC Theatre Group Stages All Female, All Nude Shakespeare Play in Central Park

The words “naked” and “Shakespeare” aren’t usually the first words people associate when contemplating the work of England’s most famous playwright, but that’s exactly what one New York theatre group have done, creating an all nude staging of The Tempest.

To mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, women from the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society decided to go for something unique when staging his final play, and putting it on while naked is certainly that. 

This isn’t exactly new territory for the women involved, who describe their performance as “a celebration of body freedom and free expression.” One of their frequent pastimes is reading topless in Central Park.

While toplessness falls within the confines of the law, complete nakedness does not, unless in the name of art.

In case you need a quick reminder of what The Tempest is about, it tells the story of how an exiled sorcerer named Prospero tries to return his daughter Miranda to her rightful place on the Italian throne by conjuring up a storm, which shipwrecks the royalty of Naples on their remote island, after which the stranded king’s son goes on to marry Miranda.

The group say they chose The Tempest because of its “central themes of alienation and reconciliation” and used nudity to show the difference between the shipwreck victims “initially forced to navigate the play’s island setting in constricting outfits suggestive of European aristocracy,” in contrast to the openness and “naked innocence” of Miranda and her father.

“We want the audience to see it through fresh eyes, as ‘something rich and strange,’ the way an audience four hundred years ago would have,” said director Alice Mottola.

The “stripped back” version of the play was staged on Thursday and Friday at the famous New York City park, with hundreds turning up for the free event.