The Testosterone Testimonials:
The Measure of a Man
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms,
the most immediate way in which a human being
can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
― Oscar Wilde
In 2008, I produced a show called The Testosterone Testimonials: The Measure of a Man at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe, NM. Though this was a one-night only performance, the house was packed and the show received a long, standing ovation when the 14 men in the production took their bows.
The idea originated with Barbara Goldman who, at the time, was the Executive Director of the Santa Fe Rape Crisis & Trauma Treatment Center (now known as Solace Crisis Treatment Center). Barbara had been inspired by Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues, wondering what was out there for men that was comparable. The result was The Testosterone Testimonials.
With this production, 14 men were asked to write their own monologues that would shed light for friends, family, and the local community about their experience growing up male in American society. The production turned out to be truly remarkable.
To create a program as diverse as possible, we called upon 14 men from the Santa Fe community with an amazing array of backgrounds and life experience: an 80-year-old rabbi, an Episcopalian minister, Viet Nam vets, an internationally-known gallery owner, 19-year-old former gang banger, a paraplegic, former police chief, the current SF police chief, a state senator, newspaper marketing manager, author and producer, lawyer, a gay man, and a transgendered man.
Though we didn't have an intermission, we had instead two musical interludes. One was an African drumming group, Agalu, and the other a guitar solo musically depicting the musician's journey as a male growing up in the Jicarilla Apache Nation. The evening closed with the Jicarilla Dance Company performing the Crown Dance. As one audience member put it, "The production was absolutely mythic."
The response from those who attended was that the world has been waiting for a thought-provoking production such as this. They learned so much about men's interior lives, their perspectives about life, how they viewed themselves, how they felt they were viewed by others, and how the world placed so many expectations on them ― expectations they never asked for.
The men in the production were deeply grateful for the experience and touched by each man's monologue. One of the men has shared the DVD of the production with many of his friends and included references to it in his blog. His wife, an instructor at Southwestern College in Santa Fe, shows the DVD to her psychology classes every semester.
Video Exerpt from "The Testosterone Testimonials"
(approx. 8 minutes in length)
“The strength of a man isn't seen in the power of his arms. It's seen in the love with which he EMBRACES you.”
― Steve Maraboli
“To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible. It is to feel shame at the sight of what seems to be unmerited misery. It is to take pride in a victory won by one's comrades.
It is to feel, when setting one's stone,
that one is contributing to the building of the world.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Wind, Sand, and Stars
“A man's calling is written on his true heart,
and he discovers it when he enters the frontier
of his deep desires.”
― John Eldredge
Wild at Heart
The Testosterone Testimonials’ (T3) Vision and Purpose
T3 explores “the measure of a man” in today’s society as seen through the eyes of men from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ages. The Testimonials provide a venue for these men to share their experience of being male as a means to enlighten, inform, entertain, and inspire men and women of all ages and from all walks of life.
Our purpose is to bring the Men’s Movement “out of the woods” and classrooms by positioning it on the public stage; to create an ongoing dialogue that dissolves social barriers, gender stereotyping, cultural myths and class stratification as promulgated for, to, and about men by both genders; and open the door for men’s contribution to creating safety, health, and healing in interpersonal relationships throughout society. Individuals, families, and communities can only benefit from exploring, sharing, and dialoguing through this process.
Why Is T3 Important?
The Men’s Movement has historically taken place in the woods: at isolated retreat centers, in small groups, and behind closed doors. It has, for the most part, been relegated to the shadows of our socio-cultural landscape and public discourse. The truest essence of men remains hidden.
The breadth of male experience, the diversity of male identity, positive aspects and expressions of masculinity, and the contribution of men as told by men is not a public conversation. Instead, the story of masculinity is told through popular music, video, and movies; promulgated by peers; often unchecked by parents and/or mentors who are less available or absent; and formulated through myth, current cultural mores, and misinformation. The Testosterone Testimonials is about direct and honest communication from the heart to the hearts of each member of our communities.
It is imperative that we recognize the importance of helping men find a positive, safe, and healing voice in today’s world. We are just one such group that is increasingly working to engage men in dealing with the problems of violence in their interpersonal relationships and community-level interactions, and how men play an intrinsic part in providing models of positive character traits and deeper understandings of the richness of their gender.