by Simon Benarroch
What: “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps” by Scott Turner Schofield
Where: The Ritz Theater, 343 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday through Saturday
Cost: $12 for students, $15 for adults
Like any good storyteller, Scott Turner Schofield knows a future-anecdote when he sees one.
Years ago, Schofield quit waitressing to perform solo shows full time. He identified as a “she” in those days — as “Kt” Kilborn, a lesbian woman.
When she announced her resignation, Kilborn’s boss, a man Schofield referred to as a “self-described redneck,” took it upon himself to ferry his employee into manhood, and demanded that the mid-trans transgender male accompany him to a strip club.
Kilborn agreed, went to the club and got a lap dance — courtesy of the boss, who then whispered a line to one of the dancers that soon made Kilborn’s the prize lap for every unaffiliated stripper in the room. Kilborn asked him about it later that night.
Schofield quoted the boss from memory: “He said ‘I told them you were a man because it was your 21st birthday, but you weren’t a man because you got your dick cut off in a tractor accident.’”*********
“I’m a feminist, I’ve taken Women’s Studies,” Schofield later recalled thinking, “but this is a story.”
It is, in fact, one of the “steps” comprising “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps,” an interactive one-man comedy show Schofield has performed across Europe and the U.S. since 2007. One of the show’s unique qualities is its “choose your own adventure” format — audience participation is central to its structure.
Schofield asks random people to pick numbers, between 1 and 127, which correspond to various skits, stunts and anecdotes drawn from Schofield’s personal true story library. These can range from lengthier bits like the “tractor accident” scenario, or a serious monologue about suicide to short spectacles like a 30-odd second scene in which Schofield slams a beer as the audience chants “Chug!”
Schofield draws his stories from times when he’s had to confront questions of male identity. He said “127 Steps” evolves as new stories play themselves out in his own life.
He assumes the role of someone who’s more-or-less been through the uncertain process of gender re-identification.
It was a step that led him to quit performing one of his two other shows, “Underground TRANsit.” He said he considered it his best work — but Kilborn’s confused female identity was the subject, leaving no role in the show for Scott Schofield.
In recent years, Schofield said he’s noticed certain nuances to being male, many of which have inspired new additions to “Becoming a Man.”
“It’s kind of like being a fish in water,” he said. “As a man, people listen to me.”
“Becoming a Man” illustrates this in a bit where Schofield asks a member of the audience, usually a woman, to “talk like a man.” As soon as the audience-member opens her mouth, Schofield interrupts her with a string of long-winded, self-important retorts.
“That’s happened to me countless times,” he said. “I become conscious of the fact that I’m talking total bullshit.”
Since he last performed the show at the National Theater of Belgium two years ago, Schofield has added six new stories to his deck, which now totals 54. Short of the mark, sure, but Schofield has a lifetime to fill the remaining 73-story vacancies.
According to Schofield, Friday’s performance of “Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps” may be the last of its kind.
“I’m starting to rework it so it’s a lot more tour-able. The acrobatics, the full-frontal nudity — I’m reworking that.”
He said he’s looking to broaden the audience. A lot of venues won’t show “Becoming a Man” because of its occasional nudity, which the show’s promo describes as “necessary and fun.” He’ll also have to tone down the acrobatic elements, as it requires props that make staging difficult.
“I might take it in a more ‘Joe’ direction,” he said. “Nov. 9 may be the last performance that is done this way.”
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