Jenny Male, MFA 2002, Pedagogy with emphasis in Movement and Fight Direction
According to Jenny, the IDC (Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, the leading organization for Intimacy Professionals in the entertainment industries) identifies people who do intimacy work as directors for stage and coordinators for screen. Jenny is certified for theatre work.
As a tenth grader in Richland, Mississippi, Jenny saw a production at a nearby high school and actually transferred to that high school “because I knew I wanted to do theatre.” She also attended the Performing Arts High School in Jackson, Mississippi.
In her undergrad studies at the University of Mississippi, Jenny got to take stage combat classes, “which made me want to attend a national stage combat workshop in Las Vegas.” That’s where she started hearing about VCU.
While at VCU, “I got a wonderful education with classes in movement and fight direction and clowning, but one of the things that was a surprise was getting very involved in voice work.” She assisted Janet Rodgers (Voice and Speech Professor Emeritus) and “this was not something on my trajectory, but I fell in love with it.” In addition to teaching fight direction, she also teaches voice and dialect as an Associate Professor of Theatre at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. “It’s all because of VCU.”
Jenny met her husband Peter Boyer in undergrad and after graduation at VCU, “It was his turn to pick where we’d move, so we went to New York for a year. Ironically, in order to pay the bills, I had to take an acting job.” She was cast in touring educational shows because, “I was loud, could speak Spanish and had basic dance skills.”
In 2003, they moved to DC, where Peter continued to act and Jenny worked with most of the major area theatres. In 2006, she went full time at Howard Community College, acting as the coordinator of their theatre program. She’s proud of HCC, because, “It’s the only community college in the country that has an Equity theatre in residence, the Rep Stage. All I have to do is go downstairs and work with fabulous DC actors.” She serves as resident intimacy and fight director for Rep Stage.
Jenny credits much of the intimacy direction movement to VCU alum Tonia Sina (MFA 2006), who chose intimacy direction as her thesis and later went on to form Intimacy Directors International with two other women. It’s been rebranded as IDC.
As an intimacy director, the field “grew so much with the demand for safe practices in the workplace, but also ways to inspire creativity. We’re not here to water down the work, but to help the artists fulfill their vision. I want to make sure the actors feel safe and confident in their work.”
One of the takeaways from VCU was to, “learn to take time to listen to the director’s vision and take copious notes on the text, then communicate with the actors to make sure all of us are working toward the same goal. Always think about the performers.”
Compiled by Liz Hopper (Emeritus Faculty) and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the January 2021 Theatre Alumni Newsletter