No Pay, Nudity: A Tale to Challenge Conventional Wisdom


Have you ever wanted something conventional wisdom told you was not worth wanting, let alone having? Have you ever wanted to date someone, go somewhere, or be something the standard bearers (whomever on God’s green earth this group of people actually IS!) politely suggested you not date or not visit or not attempt to become? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you know. And NO PAY, NUDITY is a film that was made especially for you.

The great actor/director Kenneth Branagh came to Tokyo with his Renaissance Theatre Company in 1990. I was living there at the time, teaching English, successfully avoiding law school and traveling as often as I could. Branagh was barely thirty-years-old at the time and was every bit what my 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Edgar Danner, would have called an upstart. My dear friend John Mackay and I went to see the company perform at The Tokyo Globe, waited in line for several hours one afternoon for tickets to one of the shows and read Kenneth Branagh’s Beginning either while we were in line or soon after the amazing experience of seeing him and his incredible company of actors live on stage. My friend John had studied chemistry at university but was undoubtedly to my extremely untrained eye (untrained but still knowing) not a scientist, but an actor. “You should go to acting school, John. I think you’re an actor, not a teacher or a scientist” I told him on more than one occasion. John thought I was nuts. While in line, I held our place while John ventured out to a noodle shop to pick up food and, lo and behold, several of the actors from the Renaissance Theatre Company were in that very noodle shop! John nodded and said hello to them, and this “them” happened to include the one-and-only Kenneth Branagh himself. When John returned and told me what had happened, I told him this “chance” meeting was auspicious and signaled something important about his future. And, as life would have it, he DID go on to study acting in England and was eventually hired by the Royal Shakespeare Company – the very company where the one-and-only Kenneth Branagh got his start. The moral of this story (if there is one) would be this, I suppose: Standard bearers beware; not everyone is fair game for your influences. Gabriel Byrne’s character in NO PAY, NUDITY, Lester Rosenthal, for example, certainly is not.

As a young man, Lester Rosenthal made the daring decision to go for it, to follow his heart, to live the life of a theater artist. But the tricky thing about such a decision, at whatever age one makes it, is that it doesn’t hold all the way to the finish line. It is a decision that must be made over and over and over again.  And again and again and again and again. Nathan Lane never fails us, it seems, and together, their characters help to put an “original spin on and old tale.” Like many of its predecessors, films such as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Withnail & I, Tootsie, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and The Truman Show, for example, NO PAY, NUDITY treats us to a view of what life is really like behind the fourth wall. Come take a look…