Karen Lasater plays Sierra, the matriarch of the naturist family, in Disrobed. She is an experienced actress of stage and screen who hails from Katy, Texas. Karen has worked in the past with fellow cast member David McClain on multiple projects - in fact, David was the one who suggested that she audition for Disrobed. Karen graciously took some time to discuss her experience as part of the cast of this unique play.
What made you want to be a part of this play? Was it daunting to play the part of a nudist on screen?
My acting friend Dave McClain, who's been my on-screen husband many times before, asked me to audition with him. Of course, he was so nervous to ask me that he waited to call the night before his Zoom audition with writers Troy and Steve! After he told me about the nudity part, he said, “Well, you haven't hung up on me yet.”
I do work well under pressure and memorize quickly, and since I totally trust his judgement (he vetted the process intently and it seemed in his opinion to be real). We knew our chances were way better if we could read together in the same house. And we only live five minutes apart in Katy (outside of Houston) and had been quarantined from the outside world for the most part during that time.
After he told me about the project, the characters, story, and pay structure, it seemed like I would be perfect for the part too. I liked the idea of taking a bold plunge into acting nude on screen without it being sexualized or gratuitous as usually is the case. At first it was daunting and awkward; Dave and I had never seen each other nude before. His wife was on board for the project, which helped.
Prior to the nude audition, which came when we got a call-back request, he suggested I come over and we casually run lines both clothed and then naked, have lunch, and just "get in the nude zone" about an hour before. That really helped ease the both of us into it and I think made our audition seamless. But indeed my armpits were sweaty from nerves!
What is your previous experience with public or social nudity, whether on stage or in your personal life?
This is my first nude appearance on TV or stage. A long time ago, in my early career as an actor, I was asked to be in a nude scene as a prostitute for an indy film. I declined on advice from my acting coach, who said it would potentially typecast me for that kind of part. I was a mother of young children at the time and she didn't think it was worth the risk.
We judge ourselves plenty all the time. But when we come from a place of love, genuine interest and care in others, and the barriers of class come down when the clothes come off, we can really just “open up and accept our true nature.”
Fast forward to this film. Because the message is wholesome and we are naturists, it seemed only a problem perhaps for others in my family who may not want to see mom naked on the screen.
However, in real life my husband and I have been to nudist resorts in Jamaica and Cancun. So the experience of being nude in public wasn't totally foreign to me. In fact by the end of the trip we both got a bit depressed that we had to put clothes on again to go back to the “real world”!
Do you feel that this experience has changed your attitude towards nudity?
Not really. My attitude had been pretty okay with nudity in general. In the right setting I'm okay with it. And to each his own how you want to live your life. But I am not a nudist or naturist and no one in my family is either. I think they are some of the nicest, kindest, most genuine people I've ever met. I still have some body image hangups, especially as I get older. I’m still critical of my extra weight here or there on my belly or butt, but I feel pretty good about how I look at my age!
What do you hope audience members will take away from this play? What message, if any, do you take from it?
For me my character Sierra who came into nudism later through her husband George summed it up at the end of the show.
“This is all about acceptance, body positivity, and feeling liberated. And if we're all made in God's image, depending on what you believe, then who are we to judge?”
We judge ourselves plenty all the time. But when we come from a place of love, genuine interest and care in others, and the barriers of class come down when the clothes come off, we can really just “open up and accept our true nature.” I like that idea.
Disrobed: the Virtual Event will stream for three shows only, on January 15, 16, and 17. The performance will stream live, and disappears immediately thereafter. For information, and to purchase tickets, see https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6996.