ASU presents excerpts of 'Machos,' panel on creating virtual theater production

October 22, 2020

How do you put on a live theater production with multiple cast members via Zoom?

Students, faculty and staff in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre have adapted all the elements of their first theater production of the semester in order to move it from the stage to a Zoom room.  The production “Machos” was moved from the stage to a Zoom room. Download Full Image

The cast and crew of “Machos” met the challenge by holding virtual auditions in the spring and scanning actors in 3D so the costume shop could create costumes while physically distancing. They also built miniature sets and scale models to create virtual sets with projection mapping. 

This weekend, audiences will get the opportunity to hear about the behind-the-scenes work as well as watch excerpts from “Machos,” a performance that draws from interviews with 100 men nationwide on what it means to be a man. 

The team put together a live panel that will stream both before and after a recorded selection of scenes and monologues from the piece, after complications in the integration of a brand-new system for online streaming meant the full show could not be recorded. 

The panel and excerpts will feature student artists who have been working on this project: Alexandra Meda, the show’s director and the artistic director of Teatro Luna, and Nicola Olsen, the dramaturge for the project. The interactive discussion and viewing will allow for questions directed to the panelists around this experience and the project at large.

“Machos” was originally devised in 2006 when Teatro Luna's Company of Latina and Women of Color set out to ask men the question directly: What does it mean to be a man and who taught you to become one? The result was “Machos,” which was performed in drag by the all-femme social justice theater company in 2007 in Chicago, and on a regional tour that the Chicago Tribune called "hugely entertaining." 

From one young man’s relationship with his correctional officer father, to a man cheating on his wife with himself, the work presents a range of true-life stories with Teatro Luna’s trademark wit, humor and unique point of view. 

Assistant dramaturge to the show Hugo Crick-Furman said the show addresses toxic masculinity at a time when “we are currently experiencing and discussing gender and patriarchy in a way that we have never truly done before, including finally opening a discussion of the ways that patriarchy as a structure hurts men as well as women and gender nonbinary folks.” 

Crick-Furman said “Machos” offers a nuanced way of exploring toxic masculinity.

“In short, discussions that could explore the way that toxic expectations of masculinity harm men are often reduced to simply ‘men are the oppressors, so men are bad,’ or that, rather than toxic masculinity being a way of describing the limiting expectations that surround men, painting masculinity itself as toxic,” Crick-Furman said. 

As part of this online production, Olsen created a virtual lobby where visitors can read more of Crick-Furman’s dramaturgical work, view research on this performance and experience a large variety of behind-the-scenes content as well as rehearsal footage. 

The virtual lobby is just one more example of how the theater program is looking for new ways to share its work, said William Partlan, artistic director for theater in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

Partlan added that although this presentation of “Machos” will differ from its original intention, “this is a production true to the mission of ASU: innovative, process-oriented and full of discoveries in the new world of streaming performance.”  

“Machos: Excerpts and live panel”

7:30 p.m., Oct. 23–24
2 p.m., Oct. 25

Online via Vimeo. Tickets available here.

Danielle Munoz

Media and Communications Coordinator, School of Film, Dance and Theatre


A few good friends

ASU Regents Professor Joan Silk brings her years of research on social behavior in primates to bear in paper commentary

October 22, 2020

Do humans form closer relationships as we age, understanding the inevitably of our own mortality? Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) tries to explain this behavior in experimental findings from examples in mostly Western societies.

Writing in the journal Science this week, ASU Regents Professor Joan Silk brings her years of research on social behavior in primates to bear in "The upside of aging," a commentary on a paper by Rosati et al. The paper is testing if this pattern of forming close friendships as aging occurs extends to other primates who do not understand the concept of time or have the capacity to anticipate future events. The research examined age-related changes in relationship quality among male chimpanzees. chimpanzees_grooming Chimpanzees grooming each other. Image courtesy Samantha Russak. Download Full Image

Silk’s most recent research has been in examining how female baboons form close relationships, and she has observed both baboons and chimpanzees in the wild. Silk is a research affiliate with the Institute of Human Origins and a professor with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Because males remain in the communities in which they are born, long-term observations can be made of chimpanzees in these communities across their long lives together.

Joan Silk

Joan Silk 

Silk notes that the paper provides convincing evidence that male chimpanzees behave much like humans do as we age, and this pattern might exist in other primates as well.

Thus, she writes, “the patterns that SST was created to explain appear to generalize beyond our own species and might not depend on having a well-developed concept of time or conscious awareness of mortality.” 

As rates of aggression decline with age, there are shifts in the males’ emotional reactivity. Essentially, the male chimpanzees mellow out, so their behavior doesn’t have to focus on dominance behaviors of earlier periods.

In the final analysis, Silk writes, “An evolutionary perspective can provide valuable insights into how natural selection shapes human social behavioral strategies as we grow old.”

Julie Russ

Assistant director, Institute of Human Origins