Artistic Director of Groundswell, Scott Sheppard, goes head to head with 2013 FringeArts LAB Fellow, Mason Rosenthal, in Go Long Big Softie, a new devised theater piece that tackles the hard and soft questions of contemporary masculinity. 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 means’ groups, taking audiences on a mythopoetic journey to healing 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.”
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?
The project was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from Wyncote Foundation and achieved its $3,500 Kickstarter goal. With this generous support, Groundswell will have the ability to try and do things it never has before. Groundswell would like to thank everyone who is making this exciting piece of experimental theater a reality.