The first time “Take Me Out,” a baseball game featuring nude shower scenes, arrived on Broadway, there were no iPhones in the theater because they hadn’t been invented yet.
This year, as the critically acclaimed play returned for its first revival, the nonprofit that hosted the show enacted a no-phones policy, requiring customers to put their phones in sealed bags before entering the theater in an effort to protect it. to avoid shooting naked actors.
The attempt failed.
This week, someone on social media posted a video of a naked Jesse Williams, a star of the play, in a shower scene. The video circulated widely.
The incident sparked outrage from both Second Stage Theatre, the nonprofit that produces the play, and Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents stage performers.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the taking and distribution of photos and videos of our members during a nude scene,” said Kate Shindle, the union chairperson, in a statement. “As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable on stage to tell difficult and challenging stories. This doesn’t mean we agree that those vulnerable moments are widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater.”
Second Stage, which distributes Playbills with a leaflet reminding customers that “photos and videos are strictly prohibited,” issued a statement of its own, saying “we are shocked that this policy has been violated” and that “taking nude photos of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have serious legal consequences.”
The theater said it wanted the online videos removed and added security to the theater to enforce the phone ban.
Second Stage has used Yondr pouches to limit phone usage – when customers arrive they are asked to turn off their phones and put them in the locked pouches that customers hold during the show, then return them to be unlocked after it’s over. The system, used at some comedy shows, pop concerts and other live events, is imperfect – some people have figured out how to open such pouches, while others smuggle phones in despite the rules.
“Take Me Out”, written by Richard Greenberg, is about homophobia in baseball; Williams plays a team star who comes out as gay and confronts the discomfort of some of his teammates. In 2003, the drama won the Tony Award for Best Play; this week, the current revival received four nominations, including one for best revival and three for actors, including Williams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Michael Oberholtzer. Oberholtzer can also be seen naked in part of the online video.
Leading up to the show, Williams, best known for “Grey’s Anatomy,” discussed nudity. “It’s terrifying in all the right ways,” he said on “The Ellen Show” last year. In an interview this year with DailyExpertNews, he was more optimistic. “I’m here to do things I’ve never done before,” he said. “I have one life, as far as I know. It’ll be fine.”