Let’s make something great together! Join us in bringing new play Man Down to The Tristan Bates in Covent Garden 9th-13th July.
What is it about?
Nick is throwing Liv a surprise birthday party, he desperately wants to make her happy. He’s got her a holiday, he’s invited her friends and he’s made sure there’s cake- but Liv wants something Nick doesn’t want to give, so she takes it.
Man Down tells the story of twentysomething Nick who, after being sexually assaulted by his girlfriend tries to ‘man up’ and move on. He takes on a promotion at work and avoids home life, but soon PTSD starts to manifest and Nick struggles to carry on pretending.
This bold new play uses shadow puppetry, humour and cutting scenes to tell Nick’s story of learning to be vulnerable and open up. It is a most definitely a story for now.
Why do you need me?
London theatres are pricey, but that shouldn’t prevent audiences from seeing this story. We are raising money to go towards the theatre hire costs and actors’ wages. We have paid a £600 hire deposit from our own pockets and we are seeking backers to support us to bring this challenging and brave new play to the stage. We can’t do it without you. We will be using hardly any set, odd bits of furniture, and no expensive costumes- so this money will go towards the theatre costs and paying actors for rehearsals.
Why this project?
Eighty four men a week die to suicide. Culturally we need to teach men how to deal with our emotions and that talking to people about our difficulties proves strength and resilience not weakness.
Last year I was sexually assaulted on campus at drama school. Subsequently I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and eventually decided to take a two year break from the course. The response I received from the institution upon reporting the incident to staff was inadequate and damaging. The support available from the NHS to someone who is in the middle of a police investigation after alleging sexual assault was difficult to access and gendered. I was almost turned away from a counselling session at a SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) because the staff member who answered the buzzer couldn't believe that a man would need that kind of support: despite me having an appointment I felt I had to prove my victimhood.
Man Down is a personal quest to open up and expand conversations about consent, mental illness and toxic masculinity in the hopes that more men and women will open up about their experiences. The play does not tell my story, but it was certainly born from my experiences of PTSD and assault.
Current UK law does not recognise that a man can be raped by a woman as rape is defined as the act of penetrating another person with a penis. Studies by academics such as Dr Siobhan Weare (Forced To Penetrate Study) and Dr Liz Bates (Hidden Victims: Men and their Experience of Domestic Violence) highlight that sexual and domestic abuse is experienced by men from female perpetrators and can have significant consequences for the victims wellbeing- both physical and mental. The play asks whether the law is representative of men’s lived experiences.
Documentaries such as the BBC's 'Abused My Girlfriend' and 'Male Rape: Breaking The Silence' have highlighted the need for conversations to broaden.
There are some excellent charities out there to support male survivors; Galop (for LGBTQ people), Survivors UK, The Mankind Initiative, Male Survivors Partnerships, but you sometimes have to really search for these and if you've been made to feel invalid elsewhere you are less likely to reach out to one of these charities.
This play is an opportunity to challenge perceptions, gender roles, health care, justice and to strengthen community.
What are your goals for Man Down?
We are raising money to stage the play for one week in London, however it is our intention to take this play out on the road to communities around the UK in 2020. Support us and you’ll be supporting a project with a trajectory.
Who are you?
Exploding Whale Theatre has an excellent and growing reputation for presenting bold and ambitious work. Our acclaimed production of 'Heroes' has played to packed houses in Edinburgh, Brighton, Sydenham Arts Festival and The Drayton Arms; and our recent production of 'Much Ado About Nothing' gained a five star review and an Offie nomination.
Jack Hart- playwright/ director
Bebe Barry- producer
Olivia- Zoë Watson
Nick- Max Ferguson
Amelia- Francene Turner
Angela / Caroline- Sarah Wanendeya
Marcus- Oliver Clayton
If, like us, you feel that this story has potential and deserves to be heard, then hop on board and join us on this exciting journey! Take a look at the range of rewards we have on offer and why not support us by making a pledge. If that’s not possible right now, you can help us spreading the word. A share can go a long way.
Risks and challenges
Making theatre is always a risk, particularly financially, however we have plans to make sure we make the most money back possible in order to stand us in good stead to take the production forward to other venues in the future. We have lots of exciting marketing- we will be having interviews with cast which we will share online, we are reaching out to media outlets for interviews and coverage to increase awareness of the project (and hopefully ticket sales) and we will be sharing insights into the rehearsal room in the form of blogs, behind the scenes photos and possibly an Exploding Whale podcast! For us this project is long term and the Tristan Bates is just the first step in getting the play seen, all pledges are an investment in a project which we hope will be active for years.
Another challenge that we also face is making sure that everyone in the company is safe whilst working with such hard hitting material. It is our duty as a company to make sure that the way we conduct the rehearsals/ production gets the most out of everyone's abilities whilst also ensuring that everyone is safe and comfortable- we plan to achieve this by including regular mindfulness sessions into our warm ups; choreographing all moments of intimacy from kissing to sexual violence and making sure actors are completely comfortable with what the are doing so that they can focus on playing the scene; and by employing an 'amber/red' system whereby actors have control to stop a scene at any time if they feel uncomfortable or feel they need to break. By using these techniques we hope to deliver a project that audiences can get lots out of whilst preserving the wellbeing of our wonderful company.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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