Of Idioms and Consequences

July 8th, 2013 by Cathy Plourde

I say Officer.  You say Constable. Store? Shop. Trash? Rubbish.

Some of the translation process of creating an Australian version of You the Man involved just specific words.  Other points of translation required considering what was meant, and how that might be best delivered idomatically.  Case in point, when Officer Friendly says:   Did you know that approximately 73% of all rapes are committed by friends, family members, and acquaintances? Apparently, it’s not that masked stranger in a dark alley that a woman has to fear as much as she has to fear the smiling faces around her. That’s a conversation stopper all right.  

Constable Friend now says: That’s a barbeque stopper all right.

But the most extensive changes came when translating American sports culture to Australian sports culture.  Basketball is equal opportunity in the US.  Footy (Australian Rule Football) was the closest we could come.  We wanted to examine the gender box, issues of loyalty, and what someone has to lose.


American Version: The Virgin Larry (Virg for short)

I tell ya, the way people talk about sex all the time, you’d think half the world was gettin’ it daily. In the movies, it’s like they kiss, and baddah-boom, you know, then, next instant, they’re doin’ it. Come on-it’s not like you can pick up a basketball and then be in the NBA. And people keep your score. Everyone’s waitin’ for you to kiss and tell. Now me, I was a late bloomer. Back in the day, I got the nickname The Virgin Larry … ‘Virg’ for short. Yeah, pretty funny, day in and day out, “Hey, Virg-great moves with the ball today … too bad you can’t score in bed like you score on the court.”  And if gay-dar radar’s turned on you, well buckle up, buddy, ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. “Hey Virg-if I ever hear you shooting for the other team, you can kiss your sorry ass goodbye !”  Nice. I got the first chick into bed that I could. It went well. No. Actually. Things were a little … premature. Hey, I mean that in several ways. They call that irony. Pretty funny. No it isn’t. You think it’s been easy having the nickname the Virgin Larry?


Aussie Version:  The Virgin Barry (VB for short)

You’d think half the world was getting’ it daily.  Movies, ads, the net – sex on tap.  Easy. But it’s not like you can just pick up a ball and get drafted, I don’t reckon. They call me the Virgin Barry – VB for short.  Great.  Is it my fault I’m a kick behind the play? “Hey VB,” they say, “too bad you can’t score where it counts.” And if gay-dar radar is turned on you well it’s bums to the wall, mate.  I got the first chick I could into bed.  How’d it go? Well, no pressure right? Let’s just say I fumbled the ball.  Lucky no-one around here keeps score.

In Australia footy is played in a club system–and correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems if every town’s got at least one club!  The players are mostly older than Americans playing for the college systems, and playing has nothing to do with university, scholarships or feeding into the NBA draft system.  The question was, what does VB have to lose by not taking action and being complicit in his friend’s atrocious actions of taping sex with a woman without her knowledge, and having sex without her consent, and, doing so after being asked to stop… a few times?  In theatre, it’s the writer’s job to create the stakes, and they need to be high.

In the American version Virg stands to lose his scholarship and is looking at a possible expulsion–as are all of the others who were there.  In the Aussie version, VB is looking at legal action being taken by the league’s lawyers.

Several years ago the show was presented at the National Women’s Studies pre-conference for the Women’s Centers association.  An audience conversation went something like this between a woman from a high profile Division I NCAA basketball school in Georgia (let’s call her Georgia) who worked in the Women’s Resource Center, and Lisa Jo Epstein, a friend who is trained in Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal:

GA: Well, that’s nice that there were consequences for the basketball player, but that’s pretty unrealistic.

LJE: Why is it unrealistic?

GA: Well, losing a scholarship?  Expulsion?  I work at [!!] and that would never ever happen.

LJE: Well, what would happen?

GA: I don’t know. Nothing.

LJE:  Maybe what this play can do for us is not replay reality just as it is.  Maybe it can help us ask, “what would happen at my university, and is that okay? Is it enough?” 

It’s not the job of theatre to recreate reality, but to offer a reflection of reality.  Standard principles of TO is in taking on reality and oppression, and then offering possibilities for alternatives, choices, and potential change.

I loved Lisa Jo’s question: What would happen, and are we okay with that?


Contributing to change: it’s under the heading of ‘WITH’

July 3rd, 2013 by Cathy Plourde

I’ve had lots of what I think are good ideas.  And, even if other agree with me, well, that, and 3 to 6 bucks will get you a cappuccino.

What I’ve appreciated about working with Prof. Ann Taket from the Burwood Campus of Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia is that she has a highly keen sense of what it means to be working with community.  That it requires the community itself to be willing to come to the table, and that requires their trust and belief they will be heard, respected, and a valued member at that table.  But it’s a two way street: it also means that they have a respect for you.

With Ann’s leadership, conversations have been happening all over the state of Victoria about You the Man. She’s presented the idea of the program being a tool for the efforts of Victorians in engaging men in violence prevention–not as a replacement, but as a means of highlighting their own programs and services, an opportunity for community members and constituents to be introduced to the ideas of violence prevention and the responsibility and accountability of all of us in this work.  The tour of the state was an act of vulnerability and humility:  This is what we are thinking, this is what it looks like, and what do you think?  How would this serve your work and efforts? Does this fill a need for you?

And as a friend of mine once said, be careful of the questions you as, if you really don’t want to hear the answer. In this case, we did want to hear the answer, and the feedback, concerns, and overwhelming enthusiasm is making the project work.  The next step in laying groundwork for statewide participation was in vetting the new translation of the script from American to Australian. And here is an eloquent and thorough response from Mr. Peter Crowley who works for the City of Moonee Valley

My favorite parts I’ve made bold!

Hi Ann

I enjoyed today’s script reading and I believe this ‘rewrite’ is well on track to its end goal.

I have been both enthusiastic and positive about “You the Man” and, I have to say, those feelings have only intensified after today.

It’s revealing to listen to the sort of post-event discussion that occurred today.  Sure there are differing views about what might be changed but, notwithstanding that today’s group had a mission, today showed me that…

1.       There was a range of comments and suggestions and that positively confirms that the script works with a range of ages and genders

2.       We should make the script as ‘efficient’ as possible but also accept that people will hear and interpret it in their own way and through the lens of their own experiences… so there’s no ‘perfect version’

3.       The fact that people respond and discuss the script with such enthusiasm shows that it really does connect and engage

At the end of the day, this is a clever play and the author clearly worked it out with great thought.  Sure we need to ‘acclimatise’ the play, but we don’t need to fix it.  It works (and the evidence has been collected to prove that)!

 Like others who have been in touch with you, I too am keen to see the benefits of You the Man in my patch.  If you need an audience for a pilot, or a dress rehearsal… look to me.  But my enthusiasm and involvement is driven by more than that.  Male voices and male presence is still far too inconspicuous in this issue.  Time after time I attend PVAW networks and meetings as the lone representative of my gender.  Perhaps it’s my interpretation, but that imbalance, that female focus, makes it too simple for some men to dismiss the issue… to consider it ‘women’s business’.   I have a strong hope (and now a solid belief) that You the Man can contribute to a change in that situation and, more importantly, to a change in the underlying and outrageous issue of the prevalence of violence, by men, to women.


Peter Crowley

Community Safety Officer

Community Development, Citizens Services & Information Management

Safe by choice, not by chance 


How do you say “Yo” in Australian?

May 29th, 2013 by Cathy Plourde

In November 2012, I met Ann Taket, a professor and researcher from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.  She was taken by the early findings being presented at the American Public Health Assn’s conference in San Francisco on the longer term effects of “You the Man”.  Subsequently–and with what seems like lightening speed, Ann found funding to explore what it would take to have an Australian version of the program and the centerpiece performance.

It’s in the beginning stages, but I’m working with her to present the idea to various constituents in the state of Victoria, meet with creative teams that might help get the play translated, and folks who could inform what ever adaptations or opportunities can be found for implementation… that, with the promise of seeing kangaroos, well, how could I say no?