Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass troupe entertains with sex ed

This is not your typical health class lecture.

Through Crocodile Dundee renditions, penis-shaped microphones and mock college parties, the comedic theatrical group Not Ready for Bedtime Players’ (NRBP) goal is to make sexual education a hilarious and enjoyable experience.

The University of Massachusetts’ health services began the NRBP in 1988, and they still today attract UMass student audiences weekly for their informative performances. According to University Health Services (UHS), NRBP got its start as part of “The AIDS Follies,” a UMass theater project about the AIDS crisis.

With a comical twist, the cast goes over several topics relevant to the health of college students including healthy sexuality, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse and violence prevention.

Junior Bedtime Player Becky Songer said, “Everyone thinks it’s just intercourse that we talk about, but it’s so much more than that.”

Between their various shows, the scripts and skits continue to evolve and expand on a variety of young adult issues. Between the summer orientation, fall and spring shows, the Bedtime Players cover diverse issues such as a student’s transition into college, socioeconomic pressures and suicide.

Director and former Bedtime Player Amanda Collings Vann admires what the Bedtime Players stand for.

“They convey information you can apply with relationships, friendships, roommates – all sorts of people in your life,” she says.

Collings Vann took on the role of leading the troupe five years ago, adding to her several responsibilities as a health educator at UHS. Collings Vann said she considers this job to be a real privilege.

According to Collings Vann, most adults may feel uncomfortable directing a group full of student actors portraying inappropriate and over-the-top sexual adult situations. However, Collings Vann says getting squeamish is not her style.

“I’ve been doing sexual education for about 20 years, so I don’t really have a great filter,” she said. “I feel like you have to talk about sex openly and honestly. There’s no other way to go about it.”

By unanimous vote, the Bedtime Players said communication is the most important message they hope to get across through their acts. Senior Bedtime Player Shawn Thomas confirms that he has no shame when it comes to talking about sex in front of large crowds.

“I feel like not being embarrassed is a prerequisite in being here,” said Thomas.

As comfortable as the cast may appear when it comes to publicly speaking about sexual encounters, sophomore Irene Eberbach had a shaky start her first year as a Bedtime Player.

With barely any acting experience, Eberbach was drawn into the act after seeing it at her freshmen orientation and deciding to get involved.

“I used to get really nervous, but now it’s just thrilling,” she said. “Keeping everyone energized is key in our performances.”

Eberbach said she is honored to be one of the select few students who are members of the Bedtime Players’ cast. She said that she has had such great experiences so far with her fellow cast members that she has been inspired to further her education as a public health major.

Eberbach says the most favored of all their skits, would have to be “What they said/What they thought,” which takes a look at two college students leaving a party to spend the night together and stars troupe members Becky Songer and Joey Goldstein.

As nerves and hormones come into play so do the racing thoughts and feelings of the students’ subconscious minds. In the awkward moments of setting the mood and applying a condom, Eberbach says they always save this act for last because it inspires the best reactions. Of all their acts, this one has been tailored the most, as the crew is constantly preparing newer and better versions of the crowd pleaser.

“People love it,” says Eberbach.

After weeks of intense four hour-long rehearsals in preparation for the school season, even potluck dinners around the holidays, the cast members have grown to build great friendships. Bedtime player Shawn Thomas considers the cast to be extremely close.

“We’re kind of like the most dysfunctional family you could ever find,” he said.

Brittney Figueira can be reached at [email protected].

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    Not Ready for Bedtime PlayersFeb 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Wow, thanks for the great article Brittney! We perform TONIGHT in Webster at 8pm! Come check us out