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January 21, 2017

Not Ready for Bedtime Players conceive training manual

Those tense, awkward moments where someone says something offensive and no one knows how to react. That guy at the party who keeps hitting on an entire group of friends. The kid on your floor who has been drinking for two weeks straight.

All of these situations happen in college, and they are all tackled by the University of Massachusetts’ Not Ready for Bedtime Players peer sexuality education troupe.

The Players, who have performed at UMass since 1988, have recently put out a guide for schools and other programs with advice, background information, and entertaining skits on healthy sexuality, gender, relationships, violence prevention, drugs and alcohol, and other, sometimes hazy, difficult subjects. The manual has been in existence for some time, according to group director and University Health Services educator, Amanda Collings Vann, and has been updated periodically by the directors of the group.

“The manual has been around since the Bedtime Players started in 1988,” she said, explaining that the group was created in response to the HIV and AIDS crisis of the late 1980s.

“The manual has been through a bunch of different revisions over the years,” she added.

Collings Vann explained that the Players decided to market the manual, because they have received questions from other similar groups on how they operate.

“We’ve recently been getting a number of inquiries from people at other universities asking how the Bedtime Players work, how do we recruit people, how do we develop our material,” said Collings Vann. “So we decided we should put it out there because we have this fantastic resource for informing people about sexual health in a different way.”

The manual includes information on the group’s audition and recruitment process, how it trains its educators, and a collection of skits the troupe has performed over the years.

The newest material, according to Collings Vann, is on bystander intervention regarding homophobia. That is, the new material will inform people in the crowd how to mediate a situation where homophobic remarks are being made.

The Not Ready for Bedtime Players, the longest running sexuality theatre troupe in the country, will perform at a variety of venues this semester. In addition to playing at Cance, James and Emerson residential halls, the troupe will play at Elms and Hampshire Colleges, and their schedule will continue to fill until September, when Collings Vann anticipates they will be booked.

The group promotes what it calls healthy sexuality. It aims not to force people to do anything, but to encourage people to look at how they incorporate sexuality into their lives and how they can do so healthily.

“We want people to have healthy and fulfilling lives, a component of that is a healthy sexuality, and sometimes people hear sexuality and think sex, just about safer sex or orgasms, but healthy sexuality is really your womb to your tomb, it’s your person,” said Collings Vann.

On the manual, Collings Vann said they had recently sold one of the $170 guides to a group at the University of Buffalo, and they expect sales to increase as they begin to advertise for it.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at sbutterfield@dailycollegian.com.

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