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Actor raises domestic violence awareness

By Jason M. Webb, Public Affairs Specialist | | November 4, 2010

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When a man dressed as 007, Austin Powers or Rocky Balboa tells a theater full of Marines and civilian-Marines about domestic violence, there is a good chance they will listen more intently.

Ben Atherton-Zeman’s one-man play, “Voices of Men,” stopped at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Oct. 27. It is a multimedia play, which uses humor and celebrity male impressions to teach about domestic violence, sexual assault and female objectification.

Atherton-Zeman has been taking his one-man show on the road for years, and has seen what it is like to deal with battered women over his 19 years as a counselor and victim’s advocate.

“I spent most of my adult life working at shelters for battered women as the community educator,” Atherton-Zeman said. “I wrote the play about 10 years ago to say the same thing I was saying as a community educator, except using funny voices and costumes.”

Atherton-Zeman said he uses the play to explain mandated training in a funny way to get his point across.

“Even if I’m a fantastic trainer (the audience) will still fall asleep, they will be bored and get defensive. So I wrote the play to say the same things with funny voices and costumes and these impactful public service announcements to get past the boredom and defensiveness.”

Throughout his play he used video recordings of movies to illustrate his ideas by putting reality with Hollywood’s version of domestic violence.

During his costume changes Atherton-Zeman rolls public service announcements ranging from teen violence to date rape.

The overall message he wants audiences to take away from the play is men can be allies to women.

“I got into this line of business because I heard too many stories from women where they were victimized by men,” Atherton-Zeman said. “It doesn’t have to be that way. We have to change the culture of the way men deal with women and violence.”

Jamie Hurst, sexual assualt response coordinator, Marine and Family Services, MCLB Albany, came across the information on a prevention web site and recommended the play to the command.

“The play went very well and seemed to have a great deal of audience participation,” she said. “Several Marines commented they felt the play was a nice change from the usual training. They further commented the message was obvious, ‘It’s up to all of us to speak up when we witness acts verbal abuse or domestic violence.’”

Hurst said she welcomed Atherton-Zeman back because his show was entertaining while informative.


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