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Loyal’ play returns to campus

Ellyn Michalak | Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The third annual production of “Loyal Daughters and Sons,” a play about sexuality at Notre Dame, will open Thursday; this year’s version features a male student on the writing team.

Junior Devin Preston, along with junior Zoà Cross, served as the first male co-writer and interviewer for the controversial play. The two also serve as producers of the show.

“‘Loyal Daughters and Sons’ was designed to be updated so that the material remains fresh and current. Notre Dame students should be able to go every year and learn something new from the show. New stories will be included, and some stories from previous productions will be integrated into new productions,” Cross said. “This year, with two authors, one of them a male student, we feel that the show continues to evolve,

which was the original hope.”

The play, originally titled “Loyal Daughters,” debuted on campus in 2006. Emily Weisbecker, a 2007 Notre Dame graduate, wrote the show in order to increase students’ awareness of sexuality issues present on campus. In 2007, Sarah Van Mill, a 2008 graduate, took over as the show’s co-writer and decided to rename the show.

“The show was renamed “Loyal Daughters and Sons” to reflect the increased proportion of male perspectives that were incorporated,” Cross said.

This year, the show hoped to incorporate even more of a male perspective with the creative efforts of a male co-writer. Preston and Cross conducted interviews with students and other members of the Notre Dame community in order to gain new material for the show’s script.

“I think having a male interviewer is invaluable to the project in terms of gathering stories from the community. When you’re talking about sexual issues, it is important that people are able to interview with either a man or a woman, because most likely they will be more comfortable with one or the other,” Preston said. “This is an issue that also can’t be solved by one gender alone, which makes it crucial to have men just as involved in the production as women.”

Preston first became interested in “Loyal Sons and Daughters” after he saw the 2006 production. In 2007, Preston auditioned for, and successfully landed, a role in the play.

“I loved performing in the show last year,” Preston said. “As a theatre major, I appreciated being involved in something that channeled my theatrical talents towards a positive cause. The great thing about performing in this show is that you’re dealing with real stories, which allows you to get to know someone who you probably haven’t had a chance to meet. Most of the people in these stories are confused about something, and trying to play them on stage forces you to really identify with that confusion, which, for me, led to a very unique understanding of the issues and the difficulties this play addresses.”

This year’s production consists of 30 different scenes. Each scene deals with sex, sexuality and sexual assault at Notre Dame and is based off of real-life experiences of Notre Dame students.

“We have 13 new scenes this year, which we think bring in a lot of material that the show hasn’t dealt with before. We tried to pull in and utilize previous stories that complemented the new material,” Preston said. “This year’s show reflects a lot of confusion and questions. The people in these stories are trying to figure out what things mean, what it means to be sexual, what it means to be Catholic, what it means to be raped. We also tried to pay attention to how people around the victims responded or reacted to sexual assault so that the show examines what we as a community can or should do about the issue.”     

“Loyal Daughters and Sons,” directed by senior Megan Hartmann, will be shown Nov. 5-7 at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for non-students and will be available both at the LaFortune Box Office and at the door.  

Immediately following the Thursday and Friday performances, a post-show panel will be held to discuss how to prevent, avoid and address sexual assault at Notre Dame.

“I believe that if students choose to attend the play, they should do so with open minds, ready to listen to these stories and respond, as a member of the Notre Dame community,” Cross said. “I would say, go to the performance. Stay for the panel discussions. And then, don’t let your involvement stop there. Keep asking questions, having discussions, speaking out, and listening to what others have to say.”