By Randall BaucomDecember 18, 2017
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- 'Praxis' is the act of applying, engaging and practicing ideas and it was those actions that service members and civilians from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE) and Fort Huachuca demonstrated during a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) training session held at Eifler Gym on Dec. 5.
The training, which was facilitated by Pure Praxis, a social theater group from Long Beach, Calif., used a technique known as "Theater of the Oppressed" to engage with the audience and enhance their overall understanding of how sexual harassment and assault can impact the workplace and how they can intercede to prevent sexual harassment and assault and assist those who have been effected by it.
"Pure Praxis uses the medium of theater to create social change and leverages the entertainment value that theater brings to engage people in a topic that really effects people's lives and help them to make changes in their own lives," said Nicole Snell, one of the performance facilitators.
"We do this by using a method created by Augusto Boal called 'Theater of the Oppressed' which brings audience members on the stage and participate in the performance, because you can talk at people, but until they actually try something it does quite stick with them as much."
The hour-long performance, which centered on the treatment of a victim after a sexual assault, introduced many of the same topics that are addressed in normal SHARP training, like how to intervene when someone is displaying harassment behavior and how to assist when a victim comes to you for assistance. During segments of the performance, audience members were brought on stage to engage with the actor-advocates to show how they would deal with the different situations.
"It is extremely rewarding, you always get different responses from the audiences and sometimes you have to really work at getting them involved, but once you break through the wall and the audience sees that they have a voice, it really brings them in even though we are discussing a difficult topic," said Snell
Sgt. 1st Class Jasmin Toulouse, the Fort Huachuca Sexual Assault Coordinator, set up the training.
"Pure Praxis was here at Fort Huachuca in January as part of a program by the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for the Marines stationed here and they received a lot of positive comments from those who participated, so I did some research and presented the opportunity to the USAICoE chain of command who wholeheartedly supported bringing the group back for a second series of performances. I hope it is something we will continue in the future."