Some shows require actors to show skin. Some shows do not. Some shows do not require nudity but the director or designers have deemed it necessary for the production. I have been in all three types of productions.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream falls into that third category.
The Lovers (Helena, Demetrius, Lysander, and Hermia) will be stripping down to their underwear gradually through the show. The Fairies (Oberon, Titania, Puck, Moth, Cobweb, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom) start and end the show scantily clad.
Many actors are already self-conscious about their bodies. I am no exception. My body type has been affectionately referred to as a “dad bod” (imagine someone somewhat physically fit, but likes beer).
Taking off my clothes or wearing revealing costumes on stage is always uncomfortable for me. I do have experience being nearly naked on stage though. I played Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, who spends a lot of the show in his underwear. I got more comfortable than I thought I would with the role but never one-hundred percent.
I will actually be wearing more clothes for Midsummer’s but my dad bod will still be visible from the back row.
Thankfully I will not be alone. Much of the cast who will be on the risque side of the costume spectrum feel the same way I do about the skin situation. It is easy to feel comfortable in my own skin when I am by myself. But, put me in front of an audience of three hundred people and I am bound to get self conscious.
After a full run in costume I noticed that I was more comfortable on stage than I thought I would be.
After a good deal of time spent in character an actor will most likely forget what they are wearing (or not wearing) and become the character.
That is the hope anyway.