Brighton-based Vincent Dance Theatre combine dance, spoken word, rap and real-life testimony to explore what it’s like to live as a man today.
Directed by Charlotte Vincent, Shut Down will be at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre on Thursday, March 28, exploring the spectrum of modern day-masculinity and investigating the “pressures, contradictions and confusions of being a man.”
Vincent Dance Theatre’s first-ever all-male production comes promised as timely and highly-charged political theatre. Devised by a cast of men and boys whose experiences punctuate the show, Shut Down continues Vincent Dance Theatre’s exploration of gender politics and what it’s like living in the world we’ve created for young people, as Charlotte explains.
“It is a brother piece to the sister piece Virgin Territory. I am not sure I am tackling anything, but I am holding up a mirror to some of the issues that men and women are facing. The end of one show is always the beginning of another. I have been making for work 25 years now or longer, and always one show flows into the next. Having got to the end of that show, I always knew that I was going to make an all-male piece, something the company had never done before – as a provocation to myself. I wanted to shift to a male perspective but view it through a feminine lens. I wanted to investigate masculinity and what living as a man means today.”
There is a spoken word piece that runs as a thread through the piece, a young person’s voice at the centre of the work. There is also a sense that the men are trying to come together.
“We are all driven by codes of behaviour and stereotypes about how we should behave, and I think the digital age is making it worse. With Instagram, a woman feels she needs to be hot and sexy and looking her best all the time, which is definitely not my emphasis.”
And with men, there is still that archetypal white male thing – the privilege, but also the sense of being shut down emotionally.
“Even if you are very centred and very intelligent, there is still that pressure for bravado and that you should come across as butch, that archetypal macho thing. The ideals of new man and equality are still things that we haven’t reached. I don’t know if we have gone backwards or if we are still stumbling forwards. But I am looking at the archetypes and saying that they still exist and that boys and men should look at alternative ways of behaving, that perhaps they wouldn’t be so lonely or struggle so much if they found other ways to succeed.
“Young men are struggling with isolation, feeling lonely, absent father figures and not knowing where to go with their problems. We know too that pornography is being seen by boys at ever younger ages and how this is affecting their psychological wellbeing and their notion of what young women are for them.
“With Shut Down, we’re playing with archetypes and behaviours to represent the internal and external struggle men face to find a role in contemporary society.”
For Charlotte, it is also crucial to broaden out the work. By including professionals and non-professionals, the hope is to appeal to an ever-wider audience.
Tickets on 01903 206206.