A short theatre production -You the Man - has been doing the rounds in Victorian educational and community institutions for the past few years to raise awareness about violence in teen dating and bystander involvement.
Bystanders can help prevent domestic violence
The play was originally produced by American Cathy Plourde in 2002. By engaging students at an early age the production aims to entertain in order to inform. The 35 minute one-man play has an actor portraying several different male characters. It
ends with a panel of community professionals where the audience can contribute their thoughts about the performance and ask questions.
Being in a theatre-based format, You the Man engages young audience members more than a lecture or other more traditional teaching formats. Realising this, Prof Ann Taket, of Deakin University, started planning to bring You the Man to Australian
audiences and adapt it accordingly in 2013. The pilot season started in the second half of 2014 and was performed to over 1700 students. Surveys were taken before and after the event to determine what sort of awareness was raised. The results showed a positive response.
Organisation Youth Action performed a survey in 2014 which involved over 3000 young people. The aim was to discover what attitudes existed in regards to domestic violence. This survey demonstrated that over 75% of people below the age of 25 believed that domestic violence was common in Australian relationships. It also showed that they were confused about what counted as domestic violence and what they could do to prevent it.
Professor Ann Taket is conducting research into the prevention and intervention of domestic abuse and violence. Prof Taket's approach is basically learning through participation and that's where You the Man comes in. This is a new approach to educating teenagers and young people about being respectful in a relationship and what counts as abuse.
By actively engaging the audience through humour and drama, one actor tells the story of different characters and their various perspectives in relation to a victim of domestic violence.
Characters such as Mitch, the friend of the victim, and the father of the victim react to seeing their friend/daughter experience domestic violence. They express their thoughts on whether it's right to interfere or not.
If I stand there and pretend like there's nothing wrong with this picture then I'm part of the problem," says Mitch, a character in the production.
This quote encompasses the play's main aim - for people to recognise domestic violence and feel empowered to do something about it. It's important to change attitudes at a young age. Unfortunately, research has shown that teen dating can lead to lifelong abusive relationships and, in some cases, even death. It has been shown to lead to mental health issues and substance abuse. The media's message about domestic violence
remains unclear and therefore experiences such as You the Man have an important role in the prevention rather than the cure of such behaviours.
The outcome of the play is to demonstrate how bystanders can safely intervene and to also provide information about support services in the local community.
Each performance features a professional actor who is trained and regularly rehearses You the Man. It's available to any organisation in Victoria in three limited seasons. Those organisations that choose to go ahead with the production will also receive advice, a resource pack and help with attracting an audience, selecting a venue and making sure that the panel of experts is relevant to the local community.
For more information on booking You the Man please contact Julie Melican on 03 5227 8108 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and for information regarding
the impact of the production on audiences, contact Professor Ann Taket on 03 9244 3798 or email@example.com