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About Man Up! - an eclectic ensemble drama performance

Man Up! was previously performed at Melbourne Fringe Festival (2019) and Melbourne Midsumma Festival (2020). The script is very diverse and created as part of Master’s project by playwright Jeremy Ives. The process involved interviewing over 170 participants on different prompts to give a sense of how masculinity was being represented within society. The performances takes on the perspective of many different cultural backgrounds as well as different ages and genders based on a series of prompts given by the interviewer. This material was then curated into distinct chapters that make up the story. The creative intention of this performance is to open up community dialogue around gender roles within society. It examines multiple stories and viewpoints about masculinity within society. The voices reflected in the text included all genders, sexualities ages 16-75 and a variety of cultural backgrounds, including Indigenous and migrant voices.

 

This curated performance piece is made up of real community voices and is an eclectic performance styles, incorporating aspects of: Poor Theatre, Verbatim Theatre, Epic Theatre and Biomechanics. Verbatim Theatre is particularly contemporary practice, and students could also examine the work of Donna Jackson (Dust) and Roslyn Oades (Various audio verbatim works).

Performance styles and conventions and their use in performance

 

Man Up! uses aspects of Poor Theatre, Epic Theatre, Biomechanics and most importantly Verbatim Theatre which is the essence of the whole performance. The performance features application of symbol which is embedded in and integral to the message of the piece, transformation of time, character and place are also crucial in the performance as four actors portray multiple characters representing the community throughout the performance.

The actors’ use of expressive and performance skills to represent characters in performance

 

Transformation of character is specifically manipulated in the performance through the use of the actors’ expressive skills. This is integral to allowing the audience to decipher the different characters being presented throughout the performance and more importantly the different narratives that weave throughout the piece. The ensemble of actors establish a Brechtian actor-audience relationship, further assisted by verbatim – the text of the performance is written by people who could be in the audience. A number of key moments in the performance are enhanced through the actors’ application of focus, energy and timing.

Manipulation of dramatic elements and production areas to enhance performance

 

Production areas enhance the performance through the reliance on sound design, establishing the setting of the performance and also the symbolic role of costumes to establish and manipulate characters. Although non-linear in its presentation, Man Up! is skilfully arranged so that it applies the dramatic elements of contrast and tension to build towards climactic and anti-climactic moments. Aspects of Poor Theatre are realised in the absence of a set design, rather the actors apply transformations and endowment to establish time and place. All eight dramatic elements are present throughout this piece.

Drama terminology associated with performance styles and practitioners from contemporary and/or historical and/or cultural traditions relevant to the performance.

 

Relevant and contemporary performance styles explored throughout the performance drawing from the influences of Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski, Vsevold Meyerhold and contemporary verbatim theatre practices (practitioners such as Donna Jackson and Roslyn Oades).

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