On average professional boxers hug 53 times each bout. They kiss one time for every 213 matches. Following the 2012 Fringe hit Hackles, this avant garde bromance by FringeArts Lab fellow Mason Rosenthal and Pig Iron School graduate Scott Sheppard asks the hard and soft questions about contemporary masculinity.
After graduating from Pig Iron’s School for Advanced Performance Training, two-time FringeArts Jumpstart performer, Scott Sheppard, goes head to head with 2013 FringeArts LAB Fellow, Mason Rosenthal, in Go Long Big Softie, a new devised theatre piece that tackles the hard and soft questions of contemporary masculinity.
Rosenthal and Sheppard’s first collaboration, Hackles, was a Citypaper festival highlight in 2012; staff writer Mark Cofta exclaimed, “I remember the “wow” of seeing Pig Iron’s first show at Swarthmore College years ago, and felt it again at Hackles…Elegantly staged with beauty and grace.”
Under the assistance of Charlotte Ford, who delighted audiences in 2012 with BANG, a clown show about female sexuality, Go Long Big Softie enters the world of defunct 1980’s mens’ groups, taking audiences on a mythopoetic journey to heal the wounds of the male psyche. The site specific piece takes place at the Torrent Collective, a dilapidated architectural palimpsest in the Italian Market District. Rosenthal explains, “This building has been a 7UP bottling factory, a boxing club, and a Vietnamese cultural center. Now it is a space for fire spinners, DJ’s, martial artists, and rappers. It's gone through its own masculine identity crisis and it's falling apart. It's the perfect place to investigate the past, present, and future of male identity.”
Go Long Big Softie aims to participate in the quickly evolving conversation around gender identity and gender fluidity by asking, “What does it mean to be a man in 2013?” Across the world boys experience a multitude of initiation rites that signify the transition into manhood. Sambian youth have sharp reeds pressed up their nostrils until they bleed, the Satere-Mawe are stung repeatedly by hundreds of poisonous bullet ants, and by the Sepik River initiates are scarred with the mark of the crocodile. In America today there is no ideal man, no initiation rite, no singular honorable path. In an age where young people are liberated by the popular paradigm that gender is merely a set of social performances that exist on a spectrum, they also face a dearth of models and mentors in the wilderness of gender identity. How do contemporary “men” walk the tightrope of being vulnerable, strong, feministic, authentic, and happy? Robert Bly, a major figure in the mythopoetic men’s movement of the 80’s and 90’s controversially claims, “Every modern male has, lying at the bottom of his psyche, a large, primitive being covered with hair down to his feet. Making contact with this Wild Man is the step the Eighties male or the Nineties male has yet to take. That bucketing-out process has yet to begin in our contemporary culture.” Go Long Big Softie asks, what can an antiquated men’s group obsessed with the power of myth teach us about becoming a man today?