ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 6, 2013) - The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command offered its workforce a more hands-on approach to identifying, preventing and reporting sexual harassment and assault in an effort to expand its annual SHARP training at the Hollis Building here April 23 and 24.

The 13 ATEC and Army Evaluation Center employees who served as cast members of the ATEC SHARP production team performed skits designed to encourage interaction from the audience.

SHARP training is a mandatory annual training requirement for all Department of the Army Soldiers and civilians. But after three years of the same training materials, Jody Jackson, equal employment opportunity manager and one of the SHARP production producers, felt it was time to start training differently.

"We wanted to bring real scenarios to life and use a different method of training," said Jackson. Audience interaction became the method of choice, according to Jackson.

The live performances consisted of six skits designed to instill the importance of recognizing and preventing sexual harassment from occurring in the Army, said Jackson. Some of the scenarios depicted were instances of same-sex harassment; supervisors sexually harassing their subordinates; and the fear of reprisals felt by contractors being sexually harassed by civilian workers.

"The skits looked at the critical do's and don'ts in preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace," said Jackson. "Also, the scenarios demonstrated the importance of zero tolerance, handling a situation, and reporting it in a timely manner."

Performing the skits was also a way to make the annual SHARP training more interesting and receptive to audiences, said Sgt. 1st Class Shaniqua Davis, a military evaluator for AEC and one of the SHARP production producers.

"The goal of the SHARP production was to bring awareness and education to our workforce," said Davis. Using ATEC personnel helped the audience visualize what harassment and assault could look like if it happens here, she added. Davis hoped the skits would be beneficial to anyone who found themselves in a situation where they were being sexually harassed.

"I would like for people to realize the things that transpired in the skits are real, and it could happen to them when they least expect it," said Davis.

Although the skits' messages were serious in nature, they were delivered in a humorous and entertaining fashion. Both the audience and actors enjoyed watching the plays being performed by people they work with everyday. Because the skits were presented in the form of a live play, it kept the audience engaged.

"When certain comments or actions were made from the skits, the audience gasped or laughed at the obvious inappropriate remarks, expressions and gestures," said Talita Sanders, a G8 budget analyst who played the role of a lesbian who misinterprets the relationship she has with a female friend.

The skits were performed in the atrium area of the Hollis Building, which is a much smaller setting than the post theater where annual face-to-face SHARP training is normally held. Sanders felt the location and the smaller crowd provided a more relaxed venue for the questions Jackson asked at the conclusion of each skit and helped improve audience participation.

Members of the audience felt the skits were a great training aid that really brought the training to life in ways not possible with the face-to-face and online training.

"The skits kept everyone's attention," said Sharon King, staff action control officer in ATEC's command group. "I believe we were all more alert and informed and although the skits were teaching, we really learned and understood more clearly."

The skits were well received and ATEC EEO Director Dr. Victoria Dixon voiced her appreciation of the performance, the cast members, and the hard work that went into making the production a reality and a success.

"To participate in such a meaningful event shows the seriousness of the entire ATEC family when it comes to the execution of this vital program," said Dixon.

Plans to incorporate the skits into the annual ATEC SHARP training are underway for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2014.