What does Catharsis Productions do?

Catharsis Productions produces artistically innovative and research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes, transforms behavior, and inspires communities to create a world without violence.


What is the methodology behind the Catharsis educational philosophy?

Catharsis Productions makes discussing of challenging issues like sexual violence accessible to audiences that may be reluctant to engage. Our work uses audience input, strategic humor and candid dialogue to lead communities toward catharsis, the purging of negative emotions or ideas that underpin social structures and behaviors.

We believe that humor is essential to create the space for difficult conversations about social taboos or rarely discussed ideas. While the use of humor in our work never makes light of violence or its consequences, we do find humor to be an effective tool in illuminating the conceptions our culture holds of stereotypical violence, gender roles and dating.


How does Catharsis select and train presenters?

Catharsis Productions chooses presenters via application and audition with regard to both issue-related educational experience and presentation skills. Once hired, all presenters undergo further issue-based training from subject matter experts and practice presentation skills with directors of specific Catharsis programs. Catharsis consistently performs quality control checks and ongoing presenter re-education to ensure the consistency and relevancy of all its presentations.


How do you describe Sex Signals to someone who hasn’t seen it?

SEXSIGNALS is an engaging, interactive, two-person presentation combining scripted material, improvisation and a facilitated audience discussion about rape.

As the presentation begins, the presenters invite the audience to share their ideas about gender stereotypes, from which the presenters role-play. This creates a discussion about destructive social norms and overly prescriptive gender roles. Then, in a scripted scene, the male actor plays an accused rapist appearing on a fictional talk show, and takes questions from the audience about his story.

After his story concludes, the two presenters engage the audience in a conversation that uses this scene as a jumping off point for critical analysis. The goal of the community dialogue is to challenge audience members who have tendencies to blame the victim, to insist that perpetrators be held accountable for their actions, and to encourage the entire group to form a community where bystander intervention is practiced and consensual sexual activity is the healthy norm.


Are there any differences in how Sex Signals (or other programs) are delivered to specialized audiences, like a college or military audience?

Yes. There are over a dozen nuanced versions of SEXSIGNALS that are tailored to fit the needs and experiences of specific audiences. While the skeleton script which underlies the program remains consistent, script elements depicting examples of socially-normalized dating, prescriptive gender stereotypes, hook-up culture and predatory behavior are all adapted to match the experiences of each particular audience.

In developing script adaptations for each particular branch of the military, Catharsis Productions consulted with retired and active-duty veterans to contextualize the interpersonal climate most likely experienced by the service members of that branch.


What additional programming does Catharsis offer and how does it all work together?

Although SEXSIGNALS is the most frequently presented and longest-running program created by Catharsis Productions, we offer several other programs which teach specific concepts and offer audiences tools to diminishing interpersonal violence in their communities.

Got Your Back (or The Hook Up), often deployed as a follow up to SEXSIGNALS, incorporates Dr. David Lisak’s research on serial predation to examine how predators’ modus operandi is often masked by certain cultural norms surrounding ‘hook-up’ culture.

Beat the Blame Game engages its audience in an interactive and candid dialogue about the deep-seated, self-protective need to blame victims, and works with the audience to dismantle the false logic beneath those beliefs and effectively challenge those who hold them.

Catharsis Productions tailors each of its programs to that training’s specific audience, and is always at work developing new artistically innovative programs to inspire audiences to create communities without violence.

All Catharsis programs are consistently reviewed and updated to reflect the ever-changing landscape of our cultural mores and research on the issues.


How are unconventional tactics like humor and improvisation used to address sexual violence and other social justice issues?

Humor is used strategically and intentionally in a number of ways throughout each of our programs. Each program utilizes humor early on in order to build rapport with audiences, allowing our presenters to build the positive relationship necessary to deliver challenging material. Additionally, humor is used to interrogate deeply held beliefs or norms with regard to rape (and other social justice issues), reducing the defensiveness that can often accompany discussions of the topic. Improvisation is employed as a means of fostering initial audience engagement in the dialogue; once audience members are comfortable participating in the light-hearted components of the program, they are more likely to engage in the dialogue’s more serious aspects.


Position Post-Its

Occasionally, major news pushes a particular issue to the forefront of the national and global discussion on social justice. Because we are frequently asked to weigh in on these issues, we have included below our official company positions on some of them. This list may be updated periodically to address new issues over time.


Military Rape and Catharsis

For a more thorough response to any of the information stated above, or with other questions about Catharsis Productions, please contact us at info@catharsisproductions.com.