Fordham Theatre Introduces Intimacy Training

A step forward in making the classroom a safer space



Without proper guidance, intimate or sensitive scenes can be hard to navigate as an actor. Fordham Theatre’s intimacy training is designed to make the rehearsal space feel safer and more comfortable.


The Fordham Theatre program is strongly encouraging its students, faculty and staff to attend its newly offered theatrical intimacy training this fall semester. 

According to the description, the training includes learning strategies for handling “physically and emotionally challenging material in rehearsal and performance.” This could include scenes relating to sexual and/or emotional intimacy or violence. 

This training was announced soon after multiple allegations of misconduct toward theatre professor Matthew Maguire, the current chair of the acting program, were posted on the Instagram page @letstalkaboutitfordham. A connection between the allegations and the training was not explicitly stated.

The BIPOC Theatre Alliance of Fordham also released a list of 10 demands on Aug. 28, with their final demand requiring the department to “commit to instituting intersectional structures dedicated to the physical safety and mental health of all students.” Specifically, the students demanded a theatre-specific counselor or intimacy director to be hired, as Fordham’s Counseling and Psychological Services is not able to sufficiently meet these needs. 

Fordham faculty acknowledged the list of demands on Sept. 3, and the announcement of the training came exactly two weeks later. 

Director Glynis Rigsby, assistant professor and program director for the BFA in dramatic arts at The New School, will teach these intimacy training sessions over Zoom. Each class will be taught separately and the sessions span from Oct. 8 to Nov. 5. 

The training is not mandatory, but theatre students are strongly encouraged to attend and to participate in the live sessions. If they are unable to attend, they will be able to access the recorded meetings at their own convenience.

Theatre major Katie Curran, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’23, expressed her eagerness to attend the training. “I think that oftentimes we go into rehearsals dealing with sensitive subject matters and don’t take the time to understand how to approach it and each other,” she said. 

She explained that in a professional setting, the theater would provide an intimacy director in order to assist the actors and production team in performing scenes of love or hatred in a safe manner. At Fordham, this is not provided, so the training will equip everyone with knowledge about how to use safe strategies while rehearsing. 

After the sophomore training session on Thursday, Curran clarified that students were not taught to be substitutes for these intimacy directors but rather instructed to “foster a culture of consent in our rehearsal and production spaces.” 

With their peers, students focused on the language relating to asking and giving consent. They also learned that important practices include pausing rehearsal to ensure everyone’s level of comfort and to confirm that the rehearsal was still a healthy and safe environment. 

“We talked about the importance of leaving it be when the answer to asking to touch someone is ‘no,’” Curran continued. “We don’t and shouldn’t need an explanation as to why someone does not want their shoulder to be touched.”

Curran said the training was very helpful for Fordham programs going forward and for students’ careers. She is hoping to work as a stage manager, and she said the training taught her to ensure actors have a safe rehearsal space and that everyone is being open about their comfort levels. 

Juniors will attend their training session Oct. 22, first-years on Oct. 26 during their Collaboration class, faculty and staff on Oct. 28, and seniors on Nov. 5.