Stage kiss

   "They embrace" in the stage directions of a play script before the turn of the century was seldom realized in production as a kiss on the lips. Only with the more relaxed interactions between unmarried men and women after World War I did the stage kiss become a basic technique to be mastered as part of the craft of acting. That the stage kiss had not yet become a universally practiced bit of stage business (as opposed to a real kiss) is evident in "Kissing on the Stage," a piece published in the Evening Star (Kansas City, 6 October 1883): "'Nobody on the stage,' said an old actress, who used to be a reigning star many years ago, to a New York Journal reporter, 'neither man nor woman, kisses from choice. At least I have never known it to be so. It is not a pleasant operation, no matter how much the people might like one another. They are both covered with paint, grease and powder, and often with perspiration, for kissing is the usual wind up to an exciting and passionate scene, and the contact of the two faces, or even the lips, is usually unpleasant. Any sort of an actor or an actress, if they know anything of their art, can simulate kissing quite as effectively as if the kiss was real. No matter how much one is excited by the scene, a kiss invariably spoils the glamour of the actress. It dispels the illusion, and brings one back to earth. On that ground I always objected to being kissed on the stage, even beyond the paint and grease idea. Actresses who consent to being kissed on the stage must want to be kissed very badly—that's my experience.'"

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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