Play Depicts Real-Life Turnaround for Vulnerable Boys

'Man Up!', a new play about Vancouver's original Boys' Club, profiles the real-life stories of four teenage boys who spent much of their youth as gang members on the streets of Vancouver.

A gritty and heart-wrenching story, 'Man Up!' presents a compelling true account of how two determined eastside educators helped facilitate a turnaround in the lives of the boys. Through regular exposure to positive male role models and ongoing mentorship, the boys depicted in the play got their lives back on track and are now successful, contributing members of society.

Some of the actors portrayed themselves on-stage and spoke candidly about what a difference the Boys' Club made in their lives.

"I used it as a cover at first, but then they really helped me get through," said Dzinh Nguyen, one of the actors who played himself in the play.

Nguyen is a graduate of Templeton Secondary School and currently works full-time as he attends BCIT on a part-time basis. Once detached from school and involved in a variety of risky behaviours, Nguyen current goal is to become a philanthropist who can others in need.

The Boys' Club depicted in the play was established five years ago by Walter Mustapich, former vice principal at Templeton, and Jim Crescenzo, the school's head of fine arts. Both men have produced the play. Designed to provide support for at-risk boys, the club has expanded into a network that runs with the cooperation of local school districts, including the Vancouver School Board.

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