In Their Words - CJ's Story

Something which isn’t immediately obvious about what’s been happening at Man Up from Restoke is all that’s been going on seemingly behind the scenes since October last year.

Most of us Up Men walked into the early workshops as strangers to the dozens of others who’ve contributed along the journey. We entered through the door alone, often a little scared, and struggling to find commonality with those who appeared so radically different on the surface.

Naturally, as a result of going through the amazing creative processes that Restoke have developed and utilised over the ten years they've been doing this, we have had a lot of time to simply sit down and chat, be it instigated by workshop activities, drinking coffee before we got going, or waiting in the background while others hone their parts of next week’s performance.

I estimate that we’ve all put in around 100hrs together, all of which have been blessed with jokes, banter, chat, knowledge, revelations, announcements, and an ongoing abundance of tighter and tighter hugs.

It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about how close I’ve become to the Up Men and the Restoke team, a tear I’m proud to shed because it represents how much we’ve opened up, connected, and formed to become something new, something progressive, something beautiful and very much a new form of masculinity - one that embraces vulnerability and wears it as a badge of honour along with bright eyes and a smile that allows others to finally open up and tackle problems that seemed initially bigger than all of us.

This coming week, each evening from Tues-Fri, what many of you will see at the Goldenhill Working Man’s Club is the sparkling tip of the Man Up iceberg, one hour of what we need to say and what we’ve come to learn in the form of heartfelt poems, beautiful dance, moving music, in your face comedy, and raw monologues.

Plus, it doesn’t end on Friday’s after-show party, which you’re all welcome to attend and talk to us more about our experiences. It doesn’t ever end. The legacy of a Man Up and what Restoke have done will diffuse throughout Stoke, the Potteries, and continue to reach further and further outward as more and more Up Men continue to chat, to share, to connect with those who really-really need to.

If you want something local, something artistic, something community orientated, and wholesome to feel deeply proud of - this is it. This is as much part of you as it is of us. This is how we Man Up.

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