Watching people sing and dance on stage probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear the words “good night out”. In fact, all of this, plus men in tights may generally not be your cup of tea…

The old-fashioned ideology that men don’t cry, sing, dance or enjoy musicals is becoming a thing of the past. Society is now embracing and celebrating men in the theatre and arts.

It’s no longer something men feel they need to hide from. Despite the stereotypes surrounding the arts, many men see it as not only a great night out, but a way to experience something on a personal level.

26-year-old William from South Manchester is a regular theatregoer. He says: “Unlike other mediums, it gives us the opportunity to learn about ourselves and our humanity in a vicarious, experiential way. Specifically for men, this is incredibly important.”

William is not alone in his opinion either. Patch Middleton, 21 from West Didsbury, said: “Theatre is the closest you can get to raw emotion – more than film or books, as you are in the same space as real people and surrounded by an audience. It can be a cathartic experience and a safe space to feel these emotions when quite often, men are told to bottle them up. Also, it is a really good way to have a different point of view presented to you.”

HOME, the Manchester-based venue for contemporary performing arts, strives to produce content that all ages and genders can enjoy, but they too see an audience split.

“It is pretty much recognised within the industry that when it comes to booking theatre tickets, the split is 60:40 female to male,” says a spokesman for HOME.

“Maybe there are societal reasons for that, not related to the arts, but why shouldn’t men book tickets to the theatre and get something out of what they see? We like to think at HOME that what’s on our stage is accessible and attractive to everyone, regardless of gender.”

Although musicals and plays might make you think of something happy and joyous, this isn’t always the case. For horror fans, the likes of The Woman in Black and The Haunting will blow you away. Even if you try to tell yourself it’s not real and it’s just people acting on stage, the atmosphere in the theatre will trick your mind.

The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting. Credit: The Stage

Simon Haworth, theatre critic for Manchester Review, sees more shows than most. He encourages more men to see the stage as a different sort of night out and an alternative to a bar or a club: “It offers new ways and angles of seeing and thinking about the world, quite often challenging what you think you know.

“Theatre provides an opportunity to break out of your normal mode of existence and to be immersed in something often disorientating, strange, beautiful and sometimes even shocking or challenging. I think men can benefit from that.

“Aside from that, with the standard of theatre that you get in Manchester, it’s often purely a great, enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It’s different from the usual, standard nightlife activities that you find in a city centre which can frankly get fairly repetitive. Repetitive is something that theatre never is.”

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The Woman in Black at The Lowry

There is always something showing at Manchester theatres, whether it be a play, panto, musical, ballet or even stand-up comedy.

Rock of Ages and tribute musicals such as American Idiot and We Will Rock You are just a few of the male-friendly stage shows touring right now. These productions offer a great way to experience the work of some of your favourite musicians in a new capacity and atmosphere.

palace - rock of ages
Rock of Ages at The Palace Theatre

The latest craze on the theatre scene is the adult-humoured productions, including Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon. Despite being an all-singing, all-dancing musical, Avenue Q breaks down the stereotype by singing about adult topics, with songs including The Internet Is for Porn, If You Were Gay and Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, among other top picks.

However, going to the theatre doesn’t always have to be an adult experience. It can also be a great night out for you and your family.

There are always many classic, family-friendly productions on offer in Manchester, which are enjoyable for people of all ages and interests including loved classics like Grease, Mary Poppins, The Lion King and Sister Act.

Manchester boasts such a unique arts scene. With multiple theatre venues and the International Festival later this summer, there’s no better time to give the theatre a go than right now.

 

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