New Play “Tickets to Manhood” July 14-30, 2011 NYC

SHOW: Tickets to Manhood by James Scruggs
WHEN: July 14 – July 30
WHERE: Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie Street, NY, NY 10002
HOW MUCH: $15 in advance, $18 at the door.
WHY: a Play about Rites of Passage, Initiation, and Masculinity in the 21st Century.

From the Editor: I will be representing the ManKind Project for a talk-back panel discussion after the July 23 performance of Tickets to Manhood. I saw an early reading of this play and was offered the opportunity – along with a number of other MKP men – to make comments on it … good, bad or ugly. What follows is from my perspective. ~ Boysen Hodgson, MKP Communications Director

This play is hard-core.

After the reading that I attended with about 30 other people in Northampton, MA 2 months ago, audience members opened their feedback by saying they felt “ripped open” by what they had just witnessed. There was a physical charge of sadness and tension in the room, and yet it was not hopeless. It was the tension of engagement, the tension of creation. James Scruggs has that impact on people.

Scrugg’s last traveling production was called “Disposable Men”. It came to Northampton in 2009. I saw it with my wife, Kendra. At the end I felt ripped open. It was a play about the disposability of African American men in the United States. It was heart-breaking, challenging, and funny. After the show I shook James’ hand, thanked him, and gave him a business card with ‘the ManKind Project, MKP.org’ written on the back. We exchanged a couple of emails in which I talked about my experience of the ManKind Project, and related it to the impact that his play had on me. He expressed mild interest … the conversation ended there.

Now three years later, I got a call from Joseph Dicenso, a past co-leader in the ManKind Project, a man with significant multi-cultural chops, a friend and mentor of mine. He wanted to know if a play-write and his crew could come sit in my IGroup and then if I would be able to get some men together to listen to a reading of his new play, “Tickets to Manhood”. The play-write? James Scruggs. Holy shit. YES.

James Scruggs, Mark Rayment (the Director) and his cast of 5 men came to West Springfield, MA to sit in our Open Men’s group – and I believe that this experience altered the way that James, and several of the other men, think about what a ‘men’s group’ can be. Many of the men said that they experienced something radically different than what they expected … in a way that allowed them to actually show up authentically, be involved, and feel safe.

“Tickets to Manhood” looks at the ways in which men go through rites-of-passage in some very damaging ways as children and young adults, questions the absence of conscious men as role models, brings together a group of men with very hard stories to tell [race, incarceration, military service, religious abuse], throws into question what the role of a ‘weekend workshop’ can be in the process of providing a meaningful rite of passage … and demonstrates how a poorly facilitated group can go horribly wrong. It subtly holds up a mirror that was not always comfortable for me to look at. It has an element of ‘the Sorcerers Apprentice’ in it that left me feeling challenged; wondering what right I have to try and facilitate ‘men’s work’ … and at the same time … demonstrating how desperately needed ‘men’s work’ is. And it definitely showed me how much I have learned about creating real safety and opportunity for men in a circle, because there was a voice in my head screaming ‘NOOO!!!’ at several points in the production.

The story that is told about who we are (even in our own minds) is different than the reality.

I invite you to go and see the play. James Scruggs – the author – would love to see a showing of men from MKP. For men in the NYC Metro MKP community, he can make comp tickets available for men to see the play ahead of the July 23 performance.

I would love to have the support of some New Warriors to speak about the role that a positive male rite of passage and role models have played in their lives. Because the play deals directly with race and class differences – I would really love to see men from Peace on the Streets in attendance. I cannot speak about what it’s like to grow up in the inner city. I cannot speak about what’s it’s like to have few male role models as a child. I know there are men in NYC who can.

James Scruggs has not attended the NWTA. He hasn’t seen the real experience. He, like so many others, has gotten his information from whatever sources he could pull together. Not all the information he got was accurate. Not all of it was inaccurate. Context is so imporant, especially when the stakes seem so high. He has real, challenging questions about what role men can play for one another in creating a healthier masculinity. He is also hopeful and sees the hole in the culture for meaningful approaches to rites-of-passage and men’s personal growth. This is, I judge, an important piece of work. It’s not a cheer-leading piece by any stretch, and yet it contains the possibility for transformation that many of us have experienced.

Tickets To Manhood will be performed Thursday, Friday, Saturday, from July 14-July 30, at 7:30pm at Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie Street, NY, NY 10002, 212 219-0736. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. For tickets… http://www.dixonplace.org/html/JamesScruggs_Jul11.html

Performed by DOUGLAS ALLEN, MAXIMILIANO BALDUZZI, SPENCER SCOTT BARROS, GERARD JOSEPH and JAMES SCRUGGS
Directed by MARK RAYMENT

What makes a man a man today? How do boys grow into men? America has become more and more urbanized: gang violence, drug addiction and imprisonment are often as much a boy’s rite of passage as religion, military service and marriage once were. The men in Tickets To Manhood examine the choices that boys make as they mature into men. But these men don’t apologize for their choices: they dive deep into them, and hold up the results for all the world to see. Their humorous and poignant stories offer a glimpse into the events that transformed them and how that metamorphosis occurred.

JAMES SCRUGGS was awarded a Franklin Furnace grant and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant. His show, Disposable Men, which was performed at HERE, received the Bel Geddes Grant and has toured to 7Stages in Atlanta and Painted Bride in Philadelphia. (RUS)H, another collaboration with Kristin Marting, premiered at 3LD Art and Technology Center, NYC. In 2010 a reading of his work Touchscape, was staged at Harlem Stage’s The Gatehouse, followed by a 3-week residency at The Baryshnikov Arts Center and a WIP showing at Dixon Place.

TICKETS TO MANHOOD is commissioned and first presented by Dixon Place with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs; and with private funds from The Peg Santvoord Foundation.

Boysen Hodgson is the Communications Director for the ManKind Project USA and the Editor of the ManKind Project Journal. He is also a co-founder of Open Men – an open men’s drop in group facilitated by members of the Springfield Uprising IGroup in western Massachusetts. Learn more ‘Open Men’ blog.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.

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