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Loyal Daughters and Sons drives the point home

Kaitlyn Conway | Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Since 2006, “Loyal Daughters and Sons” has told stories about sexual assaults. And not just any assaults, but the ones most personal at Our Lady’s University: the stories that Notre Dame students have to tell.

With its 2009 three-day run starting today, “Loyal Daughters and Sons” continues to tell  the stories that we most need to hear. They aren’t easy stories to deal with, but they’re stories that need to be told, and everyone should try to attend one of the three shows of “Loyal Daughters and Sons.”

As I watched the dress rehearsal of the show (produced this year by Ellen Rolfes), I could not help but feel that under the co-direction of Katherine Khorey and Shay Thornton, the show took on a darker and much more emphatic tone. The show really gets across the idea that sexual assault — and sexuality in general for that matter — is an issue that the University can no longer brush aside.

While many of the sketches were familiar to me  (they were carried over from prior productions I have attended in 2007 and 2008), they were grouped differently, and I felt as though that served to emphasize the dark issues the play addresses. The show gets its point across with skill, and one can’t help but to leave feeling thoughtful and wondering how many people struggle with the issues portrayed.

Now, the show isn’t just about sexual assault. The play also addresses issues of merely being sexually active at a Catholic university and of being homosexual. The play addresses sexuality as a whole, though I felt like much of this year’s emphasis was on the darker issues that continue to be problems. However, sketches about building a positive self-image are also in the play, which makes it a lot easier to take in everything else that’s being portrayed.

The actors bring great levels of emotion to their characters. Even if they appear in multiple scenes, each time they capture what the person in the different situations would feel. Most importantly, they remained connected to the audience. Before the rehearsal began, Thornton reminded the actors that “the whole concept of the show is that you’re Notre Dame students; you’re just like anyone else.”

And indeed, one cannot help but relate to the students portrayed in different situations. You feel horror. You feel terror. You smile and feel good about yourself, all depending on the scene that’s unfolding in front of you. “Loyal Daughters and Sons” is readily accessible, because it portrays situations that we deal with on a too-regular basis.

The show’s production team will join Notre Dame professors, FIRE Starters (peer educators from the Gender Relations center) and representatives from the University Counseling Center and the St. Joseph County Rape and Crisis Center for panels following the Wednesday and Thursday shows.

I know it’s uncomfortable. None of us really want to face the issues brought up by sexuality, both positive and negative. “Loyal Daughters and Sons” handles the issues in a manner that is powerful and enlightening. No one should miss this year’s show.

Contact Kaitlyn Conway at kconway2@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the authors and not necessarily those of The Observer.