The Man for a Day Workshop with Diane Torr is a unique experience.
This is a workshop, which Diane initiated in New York as A “Drag King” workshop and which she has been teaching since 1990 in a variety of venues throughout N. America, Europe and Asia. Since its inception, the Man for a Day workshop gathered much media attention, and brought Diane’s work into the public eye. The workshop also pioneered a drag king performance culture in theatres and clubs in several of the cities in which it was taught. Women have taken it for many reasons, according to their situation.
Maybe during a lifetime of observing men in your neighborhood, on the subway, in the office, in cars, in your home, etc., you have a curiosity about how men “get away” with certain behaviors that would be considered undesirable or socially unacceptable in women. You might want to experience the transformation from female to male as a way to intercept your so-called “normal” behavior as a woman, and discover new responses. Think about the process of buying a car……. as a woman, it is generally assumed that you know nothing about cars, and car dealers generally reflect that attitude. After a workshop, one particularly convincing participant actually went to a car dealership and used her male guise as a means to cut a deal that she thought would have been unthinkable as a woman. Other women have attended the workshop and then met with a lover (male or female) for a night of role-play thrills. Some participants are actresses and opera singers, who had “pants” or “trouser”roles and they wanted to make their characters more authentic. Occasionally, a woman has attended the workshop who wanted to explore a desire to become a man permanently, and then the workshop was a catalyst for making that decision.
For most participants – their reason to commit to being a man for a day was to have fun, to be outrageous. By exploring familiar situations, like going to a bar or restaurant and interacting with others in a new identity, there was a chance to play with ideas that are taken seriously on a daily basis, e.g. questions like “What are you? A Man or a Woman?” Of course, women have cross-dressed throughout history and used the guise to their advantage. An important distinction to the workshop is that the intention is not to “pass”, but rather to question what is considered a given. In the course of constructing another identity, one instantly sees other possibilities of being. In becoming a man you learn how to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” without having to wear a testosterone patch! This is a chance to escape for one day from the social construction of the identity of “woman” and to literally discover a new YOU!!
During the workshop, either Diane or a make-up artist will give each person an individual makeover and will provide facial hair, 5 o’clock shadow, etc. Each person is responsible for the male clothes they will need for their male identity. Please also bring: a wide elasticised bandage (6inches minimum) to bind breasts, and a fake penis – (condom stuffed with cotton wool, for example). We will learn how to take up space, walk, eat, drink, pick up objects, smile, etc. as men. We will interact with each other, in scene studies and in character development exercises, and create our new identities. Then we will make a visit to a public place such as café, restaurant, bar, strip club, pool hall, dance club, where we will test out our new identities.
The beginning of the following day is spent in a feedback session and then each participant learns to do their make-up by themselves. We continue to develop our characters and we have the opportunity to go out to a new location. We each take from the workshop what is useful to us, but we all leave with the shared experience (and the kick) of going beyond our “regular” selves and expanding our gender repertoire. The workshop culminates in a feedback session at the workshop studio space.
Diane has taught Man for a Day Workshops in cities around the globe, including:
In February 2011, Diane taught her first Man for a Day workshop in Brasilia at the Novadanca Festival. Her work has been the subject of profiles on BBC2 Q.E.D., HBO’s Reel Sex, in the Washington Post, Village Voice, London Independent, El Pais, German Vogue, etc. She was also one of the protagonists in Gabriel Baur’s feature film, Venus Boyz (2002). Diane’s book, Sex, Drag and Male Roles; Investigating Gender as Performance and co-authored by Stephen Bottoms has been released by University of Michigan Press. A feature film on her work, Man for a Day, by Berlin filmmaker, Katarina Peters, premiered at the Berlinale Film Festival on February 10, 2012 and is now on theatrical release. Diane receives grants and awards from NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts), Jerome Foundation, Art Matters, Yorkshire Arts, and the Scottish Arts Council , Creative Scotland, among others.
If you’ve participated in this workshop and would like to submit some feedback, feel free to fill out the Questionnaire for Workshop Participants.