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All-Female Nude Shakespeare Performance Seeks To Change Perceptions In Prospect Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A public display of one of Shakespeare's classics is offering a very revealing performance, but the participants said it is not about shock value.

CBS2 was there for a clothed dress rehearsal for the dressed-down performance of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" by Torn Out Theater.

The all-female cast will be all nude come showtime next month inside Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The group also performed earlier this year in Central Park.

"We were really interested in getting an audience to be able see nudity as non-sexual, non-threatening, and eventually not even strange," said director Pitr Strait. "By the end the play, it's normal."

As CBS2's Valerie Castro reported, the actors said it sends a message of body positivity.

"It's being courageously vulnerable and generous with yourself as an artist, first and foremost, and saying, I'm doing this for this purpose," said Suzannah Gratz.

Tracie Morris, a humanities and media studies professor at the Pratt Institute, said the work alone grabs viewers' attention.

"Shakespeare's language is so strong that it really doesn't matter what kind of costuming you have," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're not wearing a costume."

The performance breaks no laws. Nudity is allowed in New York City when considered part of an artistic performance.

"Which is great for us, but also really strange," Strait said. "We all accept that this isn't obscene as long as they're speaking in verse."

But some parents in the park were not sure it was something they wanted their kids to stumble across.

"My son, he's 5 years old," said Adelle Cekic of Prospect Park. "He might ask questions that I would not be able to answer him."

Others said they thought it was no big deal.

"I wouldn't have a problem with it," said Rasha Dalbah. "I mean, you explain to them that it's art. They're, you know, expressing themselves. It's a performance."

The show will be performed every night from Sept. 7 through Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Music Pagoda at Prospect Park. Admission is free.

The group's performance in May drew several hundred spectators.

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