Improv Group Highlights Sexual Assault
Sex Signals, a sexual assault awareness and prevention program, graced the stage of GPAC on Sept. 14. The show featured some jokes and most importantly, left the attending students contemplating sexual etiquette.
Normally this production caps attendance at 350 people, but a lot of students were coming to attend, which was above what was expected and to many students being turned away.
This was for crowd control reasons, so that the performers could engage and be heard with the audience.
The production consisted of two members, Courtney Abbott and Ryan Hallahan, who engaged the audience with their quirky but relatable remarks about sexual behavior and mannerisms in our society.
With help from the audience, the duo constructed and performed three relatively short skits.
The first act presented how members of the opposite sex would approach each other or communicate at a party.
The communication and behavior was appropriate on both ends of the performance; Hallahan’s character was direct but polite, and Abbott ended the scene by walking off and dismissing Hallahan’s character.
For the second bit, Abbott and Hallahan informed the crowd that underneath their seats there would be a sign, and if, for whatever reason, the crowd felt uncomfortable during the following performance they should hold up those signs. Surprisingly enough, when Hallahan’s character started to corner Abbott’s, a great deal of those signs shot up.
Acknowledging the collection of arms raised in protest, the two performers stopped mid-scene to ask what exactly had upset so many students.
After hearing out a few audience members and a brief discussion, the two went on to the next skit, which turned out to be the most thought provoking of the night.
For the finale skit Abbott played a student interviewing a fellow student – Hallahan – about an alleged imaginary rape case of another imaginary student.
Hallahan played the part of a frat boy who had attended the party on the night of said alleged crime. The scenario left many audience members upset, and when it came time for Abbott to turn and ask the audience for questions, they held Hallahans’ character fully accountable.
After the scene ended, Hallahan and Abbott quickly reminded everyone of the Psychological Services offered here at UNCP, just in case anyone was upset, offended or even triggered by the content discussed that evening.
They reminded the students to take their survey in order to be entered into a drawing, thanked the students in attendance for coming and dismissed them with a few jokes and some refreshments in the lobby, but it’s safe to say everyone left the Giving Arts Performance Center in deep thought.
Sex Signals is an improv production by Catharsis Productions, a company founded in 2000, that specializes in engaging communities, whether it be military bases, campuses or even corporate work spaces.
While the company does talk about racial discrimination and violence, the company’s main focus regards sexual assault, rape awareness and healthy relationships.
What separates Catharsis Productions from the average prevention and awareness program is how they initiate these conversations - with humor.
That’s what makes Catharsis Productions so different and unique - their ability to find humor in these topics that otherwise might have been presented as rather intimidating and serious.
The prevention and awareness educators that are at the heart of these performances are very talented and interesting individuals as well.
Abbott joined Catharsis Productions in 2005, and as a result, has been to all 50 states and a dozen foreign countries working with the organization.
She was just a year out of college, working as a bartender and acting in Chicago when she got the offer.
Hallahan also graduated in the same state and for the previous seven years has made his living as an actor in Chicago.
For more information about Sex Signals and Catharsis Productions visit http://www.catharsisproductions.com/