Showing Some Skin

FOB:Showing Some SkinWhen the producers of neil labute's latest play, "Reasons to Be Pretty," held an open casting call in New York this January looking for "real people, with real bodies ... (no professional models)" to be photographed for the production's advertising campaign, fans of the writer-director-playwright may have had reason to be dubious.
The cynical (and perhaps slightly schizoid) stage and screen work of LaBute - critics, though not the box office, took notice of his films In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors - has been characterized as everything from a genius, to pedantic and abrasive, to misogynist and even "anti-misogynist." David Edelstein called his films "toxic" and "the all-time-champion worst dating movies."

"Reasons to Be Pretty" is the third play in LaBute's triptych delving into America's obsession with body image. The others: "The Shape of Things" (also adapted for the screen) and "Fat Pig" have been provocative, to say the least, and, at times, savage.

In addition to featuring photos from the advertising campaign, the play's Web site (called, hilariously, will expand the discussion with video interviews and other unique content.

Those who audition need to be willing to show their bodies and tell a short story about a body part they're insecure about. Bernard Telsey, one of the producers of "Reasons to Be Pretty," says, "We're looking for real people of all body types to help us create a campaign that expresses what this play is about."

New York-based Spot Co., which created the campaign, tapped photographer Howard Schatz, known for his unique depictions of the human body. Drew Hodges, ceo of Spot Co., says, "Neil LaBute is an extremely provocative playwright, and we want the ads for the Broadway production to reflect that sensibility." Which might not be what you want to hear when you're disrobing in front of a photographer.

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