“You won’t like it, I promise. But it’ll be good for ya.”
Studio C Artists is currently presenting a new original solo work Man Up by NYFA Fellowship and Critics Choice at BACA recipient (also Bourbon Street pilot) writer, Jonuel Pozo, performed by writer/actor/dancer/choreographer Derek Ringold.
It’s a no-holds-barred, scathing dissertation of what it really means to be a Peter Pan and asks the question: “But for gay men… is it ever really possible to leave Neverland?”
Set smack in the middle of a young gay man’s life, Man Up excavates debilitating inner dialogs, blighting insecurities and spiraling behaviors. Exposed are nightly episodes of raw sex, recreational drug use, and bad boy on boy relationships, one of which turns extremely violent. Man Up leaves barely a stone unturned on the road to perdition for Mr. Ringold who is caught in a self-imposed rerun of, “I can’t get a man to love me.”
Mr. Ringold uses dance, multimedia, and the spoken word to explore the hurdles faced by gay men trying to make the transition into manhood. This production is a personal journey which follows Mr. Ringold’s own soul search to become a responsible adult male and leave behind the ever-present temptations in the gay male world to remain one of the Lost Boys of West Hollywood.
Truthfully, if I were a hard core WEHO party boy, on one hand I’d get a kick out of watching some other “girl” losing it on stage. But on the other hand, I might get a bit queasy looking into this mirror.
Apart from shock value entertainment, which this show really isn’t (although the elements are outrageous), what Man Up does is far more interesting and purposeful; this story crosses “party lines” and gives a fairly neutral point of view about everyone, gay or straight, who struggles between the fantasy of staying young and fabulous forever and passing into the land of maturity.
With maturescence there is an opportunity to step into one’s true personal power. Being an adult has a lot of upside – stability, money, career fulfillment, relationship fulfillment; goals, dreams and desires no longer on hold or hard to achieve; less chaos, more happiness. But making that change also means you can never go back. It is the false perception and fear that our naïve, carefree, devil-may-care, more sexy self, will be left behind forever. And it gets Mr. Ringold almost every time.
However, Mr. Ringold is fortunate. He has an encouraging mom, whom he loves, an off-handed lucky encounter with a guidance counselor who challenges him to take on a mentorship role, and a slew of ancient ancestors who visit in the night, through clouds of smoke and dance, and who push him to making the one cataclysmic decision to change his life.
This is a story to really get down with. It’s so honest, filled with truth, humor and hope. There’s no where to hide and it can hit you where it hurts. It’s wonderfully dressed with the decadent shenanigans of Mr. Ringold and firmly supported by the precise writing of Mr. Pozo. Most important, in a very straightforward way, it clarifies the struggle and how every one of us gets to “the other side” while failing, falling, overcoming, achieving and even inspiring (others).
Man Up not only exposes Mr. Ringolds, but our own, greatest fears and the potential for our greatest joys.
Two Thumbs Up! This show is truly a success story for Mr. Ringold and a MUST SEE while it’s still here.
Directed by John Coppola
Written by Jonuel Pozo & Derek Ringold
Starring Derek Ringold
Produced by Michael Sonntag
Visual & Audio Mike Stathopolous
Approximate running time: 1 hour