'Sex Signals' discusses preventing sexual assault through comedy
June 12, 2009
<b><i>Subjects of dating, sex, relationships and assault demonstrated with humor</i></b>
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - One of the most popular improvisational shows on the mainland touched down on U.S. Army soil, here, earlier this week, leaving its Army Combat Uniform-clad audiences both in stitches as well as in a pensive state regarding sexual encounters.
Sex Signals, a 90-minute-long, two-person play, tackled touchy subjects such as pick-up lines, dating and rape - and did it all while using an often irreverent, no-holds-barred approach to these topics.
Judging by the reaction of the 300 Soldiers who attended the early morning, debut performance at Sgt. Smith Theater, June 8, the show was an instant hit.
"It was funny and entertaining, and it just reinforced some of the stuff I've already learned," offered Spc. Jerry Johnson, medic, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. "Some of the stuff, like when (the actors) began talking about rape, I turned and saw everyone's face around me ... and it was like, 'Oh, no. They're really going to talk about that now''
"But it was good," he continued. "They actually got into the nuts and bolts of those kinds of situations."
Relying upon the comedic talents of veteran actors Ben Murrie and Amber Kelly, the show got off to a blazing-hot start, as the majority of skits were laced with sexual innuendo and colorful language.
The high point of the performance came, however, when Kelly asked Murrie to lead a thought-provoking discussion with audience members that began with the statement, "I really didn't rape that girl."
"I'd rather you just kick me in the (groin) than say that," he deadpanned, as audience members howled in laughter.
Reluctantly, he decided to play along. He would play David, a man who allegedly assaulted a girl he just met. Meanwhile, Kelly would play a talk-show host.
"Did she ever say to stop after you started having sex with her'" Amy asked.
"Well, yeah. But she didn't scream," David contended. "She just kind of whispered it at first, and then she sort of just lay there."
While audience members considered whether David's argument was convincing enough, Murrie reverted to character and asked the Soldiers, "You think she wanted to have sex at some point'"
"Yes," the audience responded.
"But was it OK for her to change her mind'" Murrie asked.
"Yes," the audience agreed again.
"Rape is sex without consent," Murrie finalized. "David said he heard, 'stop.' And that's what makes this situation rape."
Created by Catharsis Productions, Sex Signals found its first audiences among mainland university and college students beginning in 2000.
The tour struck such a chord among fans, in fact, that the U.S. Army decided to add it to its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program, thus making it mandatory attendance for all Soldiers between the ages of 18 and 24.
Fort Hood, Texas, became the first military installation to stage the show before a group of Soldiers last November.
But whether Sex Signals continues to be a part of the Army's future depends heavily on its Soldiers, who, following each performance, are required to fill out a survey and explain what they've learned about sexual encounters, including date rape.
"The Army wants feedback so that they can justify doing something like this again in the future," said Brenda Huntsinger, USAG-HI, sexual assault response coordinator.
Call 808-655-1718 to learn more about sexual assault and harassment or visit <a href="http://www.preventsexualassault.army.mil">www.preventsexualassault.army.mil</a>.