Changing lives, changing policy, and creating innovative theatre

Waiting For Gandalf at Brighton Fringe
Waiting For Gandalf at Brighton Fringe

Sussex charity Mankind is presenting Waiting For Gandalf at this year's Fringe, a play addressing and challenging traditional stereotypes around masculinity.

Mankind is one of only a handful of specialist male agencies across the UK and provides support services for men who have been affected by unwanted sexual experiences.

Martyn Sullivan, director of Mankind Brighton

Martyn Sullivan, director of Mankind Brighton

This is its third year of staging performances at the Fringe, and its innovative theatre intrigues audiences with endearing and imaginative representations from the male perspective.

Waiting for Gandalf is a one-man piece which weaves through Kevin Brook’s obsession with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, as a way of escapism from his real life.

Martyn Sullivan, 51, director of Mankind, Brighton for the past eight years, said: “Mankind have produced a piece of quality theatre to entertain, which includes and delivers an engaging message. We are not doing issue-based theatre, its theatre with an issue.”

Mankind provides free or donation-based one-to-one counselling and also small group therapy for men aged 18 and over.

It works with around 150 men a year, helping them to cope with the past and move forward with their lives.

Mr Sullivan said: “We feel there is a need for a distinct service for men, because the experience is very different for men and women. Equality is equality across the board, so we need to create an equal society and break down male stereotypes.”

Mankind is a founding member of the Male Survivors Partnership, a UK-based organisation, which aims to raise awareness of the issue, and work with the Ministry of Justice to help inform on policy and health boards to advise on service standards.

“I really noticed that the male voice just wasn’t there. We are standing up for the male survivor and making a huge difference by ensuring that needs are met for specialist services for men across the UK.”

Mr Sullivan confirms recent media coverage of unwanted sexual experiences initially saw a 40 per cent increase across the country for services from males and females affected:

“The media constantly bombarded people with stories of unwanted sexual experiences, and this had a very interesting affect, as the media tends to focus on the ruin of lives, and in reality miss out the fact that many people go on to lead very happy and successful lives.”

Waiting for Gandalf, with an optional post-show Q&A after each performance, runs at 6pm each evening until Sunday, May 20 at Sweet Werks, 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton.

Tickets are £8 (£6 concessions).

Call the box office on 01273 917272 or visit: brightonfringe.org

To access Sussex Mankind, call 01273 911 680 or visit: www.mkcharity.org

For immediate help: Safeline National Helpline: 0808 800 5005