Magazine article The New Yorker


Magazine article The New Yorker


Article excerpt


Eight years ago, Yehuda Duenyas directed the Thomas Bradshaw play "Purity," at P.S. 122. It tells the story of two Columbia professors who go to Ecuador to buy a twelve-year-old girl. "There were some very graphic scenes," Duenyas said last week. In the process of getting those scenes to land, he became adept at persuading actors to do things onstage that they might not even consider doing at home in the dark.

Earlier this year, Bradshaw called Duenyas and explained that Ethan McSweeny, the director of his latest play, "Fulfillment," needed help with the sexual material in the script. In several instances, the actors were expected to simulate intercourse onstage in such a way that would make them--and, Bradshaw hoped, the audience--uncomfortable. Would Duenyas lend a hand? "Like a sex choreographer?" Duenyas said. They had a laugh. Not long afterward, he flew in from Los Angeles to attend the rehearsals, in New York. The producers wondered whether they should refer to him as a consultant. "I'm not coming to New York to be a consultant," Duenyas replied. "I'm coming to be a sex choreographer."

New jobs: Duenyas had created one, at least. "It's not really a category that's ever existed," he said. "I want to see it at the Tonys. I have a particular knack for it."

Duenyas, who is forty-one, grew up in L.A. but came to New York in 1996. He was a co-founder of the experimental troupe the National Theatre of the United States of America and a burlesque dancer. At the Box, as Duke Lafayette, he performed lewd acts with a golden mannequin leg: "I took it very seriously."

He returned to L.A. in 2011, to work at Walt Disney Imagineering. A few years ago, he created an immersion experience called the Ascent, in which participants can harness their brain waves in order to levitate. He was also a co-creator of this year's public-service campaign "Love Has No Labels," the one with the skeletons making out behind an X-ray screen. He lives in Studio City with his partner and their eight-year-old daughter. "Everyone has a sexual persona," he said. His own, he added, was "liberal. Or libertarian?"

Compared with Bradshaw's usual theatrical provocations, "Fulfillment" is fairly tame--the sex is among consenting adults. …

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