Theatre group tells stories of masculinity

Female actresses Yadira Correa and Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez of Chicago perform one of their many skits from their interviewed-based project Machos in the auditorium at the ARC on Wednesday, Oct. 1. Machos is run by Teatro Luna Th Erica Magda

Female actresses Yadira Correa and Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez of Chicago perform one of their many skits from their interviewed-based project “Machos” in the auditorium at the ARC on Wednesday, Oct. 1. “Machos” is run by Teatro Luna Th Erica Magda

By Kate Leifheit

“Be a man.” “Step up.” “Be a man.” “Man up.” “Be a man.” “Grow some balls.” “Be a man.” “You want to be man.” “Huh?” “Then face your fears.” “Work hard.” “Pay the bills.” “Don’t cry.” “Be a man.”

“BE A MAN,” pronounced the cast of Machos.

Teatro Luna, a Chicago production crew of only Latina woman, brought “Machos” to the ARC auditorium Wednesday, October 1, telling, verbatim, the stories of 50 interviewed men between the ages of 20 and 65.

The original story idea began with gathering information about how men view Latina women, but soon Teatro Luna realized that men had a lot of other things they wanted to say that were not being heard.

“There were so many stories that men had and no one had asked them these questions before.” said castmember Miranda Gonzalez. “Guys would come in and be like ‘I only have a certain amount of minutes, I can’t stay that long’ and then a couple hours later they’re like, ‘Wow, thank you, I never thought about that.'”

Ross Wantland, coordinator of sexual assault programs at the University, said 80 percent of assault victims were men attacked by other men, and that men commit the majority of sexual assault.

“I think often times a lot of problems that impact women, such as sexual assault, get called women’s issues, where as men are vastly the ones who are doing it,” Wantland said. “This is really a men’s issue. As well as it affects women but really it’s something we need to say, what about men? Why aren’t they getting involved? How can we get them involved in this?”

Machos brings the issues and pressures men experience alive while trying to fit society’s definition of a “man”. The cast covers issues from masturbation to the relationship between fraternity brothers to the difficulty of giving up professional baseball in order to take up the duty of being a father.

There is a common phrase when asked how one learned to be a man.

“Me? I learned it from my dad,” the cast on stage collectively said.

However, women are strong influences on how men identify themselves too.

Alexandra Meda, touring director of Teatro Luna, came to this realization while going over some of the interviews.

“There are things where their girlfriend or their wife are saying, ‘Ya know, be a man. Why are you acting like that? This is your role, this is my role. You’re not fulfilling your role.'” Meda said. “I think when we apply these kinds of divisions it can be problematic. I think it ends the flow of communication.”

Audience members compared the experiences of those onstage to their own concepts of manhood.

“I think there’s a lot of conflict about being told what a man is and feeling like you have to stay in a box,” said Nick Gooler, sophomore in General Studies, after the performance,

Wantland said his goal is to begin more dialogue on campus on what it means to be a man and hopes that men will communicate more about their experiences and how they are feeling.

Gooler said it is important for men and women to communicate and not just assume set roles but to work together.

“Specifically talking about violence prevention, ending violence against women, both men and women have a role to play and the woman’s role is not just to avoid being a victim there are more active things, and men also have to be responsible for holding each other accountable,” he said.

So what about the definition of macho?

“It’s whatever you want it to be.” Gonzalez said.