One Punch Wonder is a timely look at male violence and how masculinity has become synonymous with aggression. Through her visceral exploration of the Coward’s Punch, director and writer Amanda Crewes hopes the piece will inspire audiences to look for change in themselves and with their friends and family.
The inspiration for the show came from conversations Crewes had with the four men now cast in the performance (Andrew Dunstan, Adam William, Christian Tomaszewski and Nicholas Allen) and the alarming rate at which male violence has been increasing.
AC: We wanted to approach a subject matter that we all felt was important in this era but also important to us. Having these four talented men in my team provided a unique opportunity, and after discussions we decided to look at a 360-degree view of One Punch Attacks. Through our exploration, we found that the violence is a symptom of the culture we’re raising our boys in – it’s the result of toxic masculinity. This is all a part of our legacy project, which focuses on giving people in our community a voice, telling their stories.
From the moment the idea for One Punch Wonder was conceived, Crewes knew exactly the type of setting she wanted to heighten the atmosphere of male aggression: a boxing ring.
AC: We wanted to provide a 360-degree perspective on the subject matter. The boxing ring provided this physically, but also metaphorically. I was inspired from seeing boxer Danny Green as a spokesman against the coward punch, which initially seems to go against his life’s work. However his message is clear – if you really wanna fight, and you’re a real man: Take it to the ring. Which is a sentiment that we echo throughout the play.
In preparing for the roles, the four actors faced extreme physical and mental challenges.
AC: The show is non-stop for almost the whole 50 minutes. Bodies collide, the actors are flipping over each other and boxing all show. Not all of them were prepared for the show when we started, but by now it’s ingrained in their bodies. Mentally though, there’s nothing equally as terrifying and exciting for an actor than playing a real person. There’s the responsibility more than ever to honour them, as it’s real people, real stories.
Along with the critical acclaim One Punch Wonder received from its Perth season, audiences have also had strong reactions to the show.
AC: Once the show is over, the audience just sit there and don’t leave the theatre. Almost like it’s a funeral. Some are crying, some are simply sitting, reflecting. It’s fascinating seeing men after the show as almost every man I talk to after the show says: “That’s me / That’s my life / I grew up like that / I saw myself in those stories” – because every man is a the victim of the culture that we’re raising them in. Similarly women come up after and say “I wish I’d brought my son / brother / father / friend” because it unpacks the way men are raised in an accessible, authentic way.
While men are beginning to hold themselves more accountable in regards to their actions, and calling out such behaviour in other men when they see it, Crewes believes there is still a long way to go in solving this problem.
AC: I think there is a rising quantity of men who are honouring what it truly means to be a man, but I believe we still have a long way to go. I get sad when I see how closed and hurt so many men seem to be. At this time, where the Me Too movement is so powerful, and we’re seeing the seemingly endless stories of predatory men in power, now more than ever is the time to discuss masculinity.
Read more about One Punch Wonder here.