Q&A with Founder of Sexual Assault Prevention Program Pure Praxis: Kelly Pfleider

Q&A with Founder of Sexual Assault Prevention Program Pure Praxis: Kelly Pfleider

In the arena of sexual assault prevention, the need for innovative approaches is paramount in addressing the persistent challenges of misconduct, harassment, and assault. Amidst the myriad of prevention programs, Kelly Pfleider emerged as a pioneer with her groundbreaking initiative, Pure Praxis. Her journey began with a profound recognition: conventional lecture-based methods lacked the emotional depth required to instigate genuine change. Drawing inspiration from the potency of storytelling, Pfleider harnessed the transformative capacity of theater education to tackle the intricacies of sexual assault prevention. Through immersive experiences and candid dialogue, Pure Praxis strives to confront harmful attitudes, debunk rape myths, and nurture environments of consent and respect. In this interview, we delve into Pfleider’s motivations, the program’s development, its ongoing objectives, and the profound impact it generates.

How did the idea of creating a program for sexual assault come about?

The primary goal of a sexual assault prevention program is to end sexual misconduct, harassment and assault. Nevertheless, even with a national increase of prevention programs; sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault remain a primary social issue. Perhaps the problem is not the content but rather how we teach each other. Research proves that lecture-based approaches (typically used with awareness and prevention curriculum) lack emotion and are often outdated.

My idea of using theater education to prevent sexual assault stemmed from recognizing the power of storytelling. I learned that if you combined interactive experiences with a safety net it was possible for people to understand and discuss complex issues (like sexual assault) and more importantly they will want to do something to change statistics such as 1/4 women and 1/10 men have or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This program is significant for its ability to educate through immersive experiences, we challenge harmful attitudes and rape myths, we equip participants with practical skills, and cultivate a culture of consent and respect.

How was this particular program developed?

Sexual violence (whether harassment or assault) is a huge issue in our society. I knew this style of interactive education would be successful but only with the right approach. Our program was developed through collaboration with professional actors, educators, and field experts. Once the message of prevention and application was clear, I integrated elements of theater techniques, improvisation and opened ended discussion prompts to ensure effectiveness, sensitivity, and cultural relevance.

And this is the style I take with all our programs. No audience is the same, so each training should look different based on the needs and the insight of each audience. I knew there was a need for change, but we needed to build a platform that would excite people, so they felt comfortable participating.

What are your continuous goals with the program?

While our program and company have various goals, our overarching aim is to serve as allies to survivors of sexual assault, conveying to them that their voices are acknowledged and valued. We hope to continue that journey with the never-ending roster of students that step onto campus each year. Ultimately we aim to create a butterfly effect of positive change through the profound power of storytelling- one person, one action, one community at a time.

What is the most rewarding part of the program?

I have a few answers to that. One, the belief that everyday people can become everyday heroes in forging a safer, more compassionate society inspires us and gives us a humbled purpose and deep fulfillment. And second, not a lot of people are willing to come to a sexual assault prevention program because of its heavy message. Prior to our ‘arrival’, participants are told “Pure Praxis is different”. Naturally they won’t believe it; that is until about 5 minutes into our training. Suddenly those that were resistant are now laughing and engaging in a way they did not expect. We do our job right when we don’t have enough time to answer all the raised hands or bring everyone is eager to try their unique intervention on our stage. It’s a great feeling when you realize people want to participate, and they want to help our character actors which in turn means they are willing to help real people in real situations. We love this work and work tremendously hard to keep our standards high!

Where did the name Pure Praxis come from?

The word Praxis is the connection and link between theory and practice. That is the approach we take in every one of our trainings. Pure Praxis brings the research and the performance while the audience brings the ideas and the practice. Together we create a show that is unlike no other.

As our conversation with Kelly Pfleider, the founder of Pure Praxis, draws to a close, it becomes apparent that her vision transcends conventional boundaries. By intertwining the art of theater with the urgency of sexual assault prevention, Pfleider has kindled a beacon of hope in the battle against misconduct and injustice. Through collaborative endeavors and unwavering commitment, Pure Praxis serves as a testament to the potency of storytelling in catalyzing societal transformation. With each performance, workshop, and interaction, Pfleider and her team reaffirm their dedication to amplifying the voices of survivors, empowering allies, and cultivating communities of empathy and understanding. As we reflect on the journey of Pure Praxis, we are reminded that genuine change begins with the courage to confront uncomfortable truths and the compassion to embark on a collective voyage toward healing and justice.

Contact your Neon Entertainment agent today to bring Pure Praxis to your next event!


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