Catharsis Productions sends 'Sex Signals' to Presidio community
April 7, 2010
- 'Sex Signals' show aims to confront and educate audiences on challenging social issues in innovative and unexpected ways.
- Military students are much more perceptive to sexual situations, due to their training in prevention of sexual harassment.
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Can date rape portrayed in a funny way be an effective learning tool'
It seemed that way amid the laughter of a packed-to-capacity Hobson Student Activity Center here when an improvisation show on sexual assault prevention and awareness was presented by members of "Sex Signals" in March.
Although the intent of the delivery was to garner laughter from the audience, the pivotal component of the show was teaching Presidio community members about the signs of rape, how to avoid it and making sure the opportunity to engage in intercourse has indeed presented itself.
"Think of verbal consent as the verbal condom," said George Zerante, one of the featured performers, during a colorful use of language and analogy that can't otherwise be used in a military news publication. "It's awkward, but you get to use it," he said.
He and his costar in the performance, Courtney Abbott, involved the audience in setting up most of the improvisational scenes, which included stop signs to signal moments where the situation could turn into a situation of sexual assault. Scenes for the young adult set ranged from absurdly obvious pick up lines to closer examinations of realistic date rape.
"The more you can get people laughing and comfortable, the more you can teach them," Abbott said.
The comedic education was much appreciated by audience member Airman 1st Class Jason Marchant, 314th Training Readiness Squadron. "It was ... awesome. It wasn't death-by-PowerPoint," he said.
"And the information was spot on; I liked the stereotypical look at guys," he said, adding that guys "aren't all muscles and cars. We are sensitive."
The show highlighted how simply being physical close can lead to dangerous ground and misunderstanding.
Zerante and Abbott agreed that military students are much more perceptive to sexual situations, due to their training in prevention of sexual harassment.
"We do shows for all branches of the military, and it is an amazing opportunity for an actor that will create change," Zerante said.
"And because military students already live by a core set of values, it is easier for them to identify with and be affected by the morality of the show," Abbott added.
At the end of the show, Marchant said he appreciated the fact that Abbott and Zerante didn't hold anything back in language and subject matter to teach awareness.
"They didn't skirt anything," Marchant said. "They entertained and taught."
Catharsis Productions are a part of the Army's I. A.M. Strong campaign, a program designed to teach Soldiers to intervene, act and motivate on issues pertaining to sexual harassment and assault.