Opening the door to interrupt gender based violence.
Announcing the publication of You the Man–Add Verb’s touring production that met with thousands and thousands of high school, university, and adults-who-work-against violence–now available for licensing by your organization, school, or theater.
Add Verb launched YTM from Maine, traveling across the US, to Bermuda, to Japan, and, currently, is touring as an Australian cultural adaptation (available for booking through Deakin University.)
But what was that sound?
That was the sound of Rose McGowan calling it.
That was the sound of virtually every other female saying to Alyssa Milano, Yup. I hear you.
You know, only ten years ago.
(Cue “Old and Tired” noise.)
And that, friends, that’s the sound of the backlash that’s only just begun.
We should have dealt with this yesterday–or last century–but it’s never to late to start. For maximum, long-lasting effect, I’d zero in on how to support youth in this cultural transformation.
Okay, so what is an age-appropriate and engaging way to get this going with youth?
You the Man.
It is a short, effective, subversive, simple, and fresh tool for communities. It’s been researched to prove effectiveness. It’s a play, 30 minutes long, featuring 6 characters–none of whom are perpetrators–who are working hard to figure out how to deal the sexual and interpersonal violence happening around them. Young people actually like it: really, and if you watch this you don’t have to take my word for it!
You the Man was originally intended to be performed by a single professional actor (see some video links at the bottom of this linked page) but it could just as easily be done as a reading with six different actors/readers. Kind of like the Vagina Monologues, but not. You the Man is much more likely to leave men and women, adults and youth, heterosexual and not, in a position of power to actually do something, especially if local domestic and sexual violence prevention advocates are a part of your event.
It is time for all of us to have this conversation about interrupting sexual and interpersonal violence. It’s the only thing that’s going to equip us to mitigate the nasty backlash that we’ve only just begun to see, hear, and feel.
And just for fun, here are a few excerpts from four of the characters:
All right. Now I’m just eating because I’m nervous. (He gets rid of the snack, at the table, a sip of water if needed, then steps DSC.) Jana does her studying at the library while John’s at work. I decide to talk to her there. When John won’t be around. (Places Jana DSL as if seated at a table.) Jana’s at a study table. (Gathers courage and approaches. Leans in to talk to Jana.) Jana. Hi. Howya doing? Hey, I’m glad I found you… I, uh—(To audience) I don’t know what I’m doing—I just jump in. (To Jana) I’d like to talk with you for a minute because, uh… see, I’m worried about— (To audience) She cuts me off. “Sorry but I’m studying here. That table is free.” Okay…
(Confused but she’s given him no options, MITCH crosses to sit in SR chair or the stool.)
A minute or so goes by and she walks to the water fountain and drops a note next to me.
(He picks it up and reads.)
Meet me in the 700 stacks in three minutes, but don’t leave when I do and go a different way. What’s this, a James Bond movie?
(Action of checking his watch for the appointed time. Crosses DSL—Jana’s study table area is now the book stacks—and goes through the action of finding the right number, looking upstage, downstage, upstate, serving to cross R. waiting for her DSR. As he is looking upstage, she startles him from behind. She is to his left. As above, the italics indicate to Jana, and quotes indicate Jana’s responses.)
Jana, hey, what’s with this spy-meets-spy stuff? She says John’s friends report to him who she talks to, “because he’s jealous of other guys. He’s protective that way.” This is abusive. She says, “John’s not abusive. He loves me. He’d never hit me.” This kind of behavior is abusive. Having friends track who you talk to is abusive. Not being able to talk to who you want to… Jana, even if he hasn’t hit you, this controlling crap, putting you down in front of people, it’s like hitting you but no one can see those marks. And hey, what about the hole in the wall, the one he punched next to your head? She looked startled, but she defended him. She says I don’t know him like she does, that I don’t understand what he’s been through, that I “don’t see how tender, loving, and generous he can be.” I’m sure he’s got his good points, Jana, I mean you wouldn’t go out with a guy who—ah, it’s just— She says she has to go now. Jana, I want you to know that I’m here if you ever need someone to listen. She said, “If you’re that concerned for me, you won’t make it worse.” And she left. Great. So she knows it can get worse. Great.
Fall sports at this school include sex and drugs and alcohol and seein’ how many first-year’s you can score before the playoffs. So far the season’s had a good start—the Virgin Larry’s become remarkably smooth… I set up the approach, dodge the defense, anticipate the side escape, and three points, touchdown, homerun, score! Don’t look at me that way, cause that’s how you tell the story if anybody wants to know. And they always do.
A buddy of mine, probably my best friend, Tom, Tom the Terminator he’s called. Unstoppable on the court. Team captain. One time he got in some trouble—this girl was saying he raped her. I asked him, I said Tom, tell me straight. He was hurt, saying he couldn’t believe I was gonna take what this girl said over him. Hey, if he said he didn’t do it, then I believe he didn’t do it. He’s my man. That girl was sorry she ever brought it up. Well, a few days ago Tom was saying that he’s got a video tape for the team to see after practice. He’s trying to get into YouTube’s 5 Million Club, always bringing in new stuff. This time, though, he’s got a “home movie,” he calls it. A little way into watching it, it’s clear the girl—the girl, she don’t have any idea she’s on candid camera, much less that she was gonna be on display for the entire basketball team’s play-by-play review. She also… well, she also wasn’t all that willin’ either. She said ‘stop’ a few times, but Tom, unstoppable Tom the Terminator had selective hearing that night. Oh boy. It was bad…this… this… this was a roomful of animals screaming for more, wishing they coulda’ had a turn… (Re-enacting the guys, then disgusted.) Go, go go, Tom, go, you the man, Tom you the man you-the-man, youtheman…Yeah, Tom. You the man. Anyway. Within a few days that girl figured out she missed the private screening. I– I had forgotten about that other girl, from before. I’m wondering if maybe back then I was just believin’ who I wanted to believe, you know?
So. I wanted to say, I am your father and I would do anything to have you be happy. I know I can’t live your life for you; that you have to make your own choices. But even if you are all grown up, you’re not alone. If you ever need to talk to me, I will listen. I will always believe you. I will always love you. I will not judge you. Let me in. But what I said instead was
(Back into the phone)
Dammit, Jana, why didn’t you tell me?
Stan the Man
Dear Stan The Man, what if a guy and a girl are both drinking, and they have sex? Later she says she hadn’t wanted to, but was too messed up to be able to say stop. I say that she was drinking and shouldn’t have been drunk if she didn’t want to fool around, but my friend Joe says that’s rape. Thanks for steering us clear.
(Tucking the letter away in his pocket.)
No problem; that’s why I’m here.
Your man Joe knows which way the wind blows, what the rules are. The “we-were-both-drinking” thinking—that’s a trap not gettin’ you far.
You drunk driving, it’s a matter-o-fact it’s who’s driving the car sits behind the bars, not your friend passed out inside you took for a ride.
(He starts to leave, but can’t let go of the issue.)
It’s a tragedy if you ain’t capable of sympathy, don’t know empathy, can’t imagine bein’ in someone else’s skin.
(He’s getting an idea, and works the audience.)
Imagine this. Imagine your sister, your mother, one good friend or another.
Maybe you on the telephone, maybe you both alone, Okay, now.
She says she’s got something important to say, she’s seeing shades of grey, so she needs you to listen and not go away.
You hear her fear, and she’s got your ear.
She’s gotta friend, charming and smart who’s been after her heart.
She tells you something bad happened, she thinks, that maybe she had had a little too much to drink— or maybe she had nothing to drink—and she tells you they were getting a little friendly—
Cut to where she’s saying no.
She pushes his hand away. He tries again anyway.
She says no, number two.
He tries again, now what’s he gonna do?
And this time as he’s crossin’ the line, she stays really quiet and still.
He thinks he’s gotta green light to cruise down this hill.
He’s not slowin’, he keeps goin’—she already said no-no-no but all that’s in his head is go-go-go.
Doctor’s analysis, she’s got paralysis, she can only watch it, she can’t stop it.
This is making war, dog, not love. I can’t tell you more.
G is for “green,” G is for “go,” but the G is silent in “that’s enough.”
This is your sister or your friend and yeah I’ll end.
(Puts his sunglasses back on)
Removing illusions, avoiding confusions.
Empathy, like sympathy only better
Stan the Man. Thanks for the letter.