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An updated ‘Loyal Daughters’ to add ‘sons’

Jenn Metz | Friday, November 9, 2007

This year’s production of “Loyal Daughters,” now called “Loyal Daughters and Sons,” will examine issues of sexuality and sexual assault from both sides of the story when it opens next week, director Megan O’Donoghue said.

“The title has changed, and that’s really indicative of the overall feeling of the production,” she said.

“Loyal Daughters and Sons,” which runs Monday through Friday in Washington Hall, was written by senior Sarah Van Mill, who conducted interviews to create new material to add to last year’s collection of skits and monologues.

“We changed the name to get more men involved,” Van Mill said. “Why should they go see ‘Loyal Daughters’? It’s about women … well, that’s reason alone to go.”

The two hope the change will create more dialogue about the issues of sexuality and sexual assault on campus.

“Sexual violence and sexuality are not single-gender issues,” Van Mill said. “No reconciliation can happen when we’re only talking about women.”

O’Donoghue stressed the importance of examining these issues from both male and female points of view.

“We’re trying to paint a picture in as honest a way as possible,” she said.

Van Mill said the male and female perspectives should help drive the message home that these are issues both sexes should be concerned about, “especially when men are the perpetrators.”

“You can’t expect women to not make mistakes in judgment that leave them susceptible to rape,” she said. “This idea of victim blaming, you can’t do that by the pure definition of the word.”

Sixty percent of the material used in this year’s show has been carried over from last year, and Van Mill’s new round of interviews was used for the other skits and monologues.

“We want to represent the interviews that we got, but this is also about getting a holistic play … if one of last year’s skits or monologues had a very important topic to address, we kept it in,” she said.

The interviews, O’Donoghue said, helped the pair realize “there were a lot more male stories out there that needed to be given just as much weight.” And so, “Loyal Daughters and Sons” will contain male monologues.

“These are based on the true stories of Notre Dame students coming to terms with sex on campus, Catholic values, homosexuality,” she said. “We’re examining sexual assault from all levels and in all different ways.”

The roughly 30-member cast contains representatives from all undergraduate classes at Notre Dame. They have spent about a month and a half working on the show, O’Donoghue said.

“They are all actors. No one is doing their own story,” she said.

“We only have one day of technical rehearsal … but the actors are ready, it should got well,” Van Mill said.

This is both O’Donoghue’s and Van Mill’s first time being involved with “Loyal Daughters.”

“I got involved primarily because Madison Liddy, who directed last year, asked me to take over for her,” O’Donoghue said.

“I think it’s important for two reasons. Rape does happen here, and we don’t really talk about it. That’s problematic. If this is a way to fix that problem, we have to do it,” she said.

Van Mill went to “Loyal Daughters” rehearsals last year while doing ethnographic research for her thesis. After asking last year’s author Emily Weisbecker for an interview, she was surprised by getting asked a question herself.

“She asked me if I was interested [in taking over] … I still tell her ‘I’m not so sure why you chose me,” she said.

This is Van Mill’s “first bout of creative writing.”

“I’m nervous to have something I’ve written be seen by others … hopefully they will go and see,” she said.

The pair said the cast and crew have been very committed to the production.

“Everyone involved feels strongly about this and has their own story. This is an avenue for these things to be expressed,” O’Donoghue said. “I hope to work toward providing … some kind of healing.”

The production of “Loyal Daughters and Sons,” is not a substitute for “The Vagina Monologues,” which created controversy over its place on campus, O’Donoghue said.

“This directly addresses issues of violence against women exclusively pertinent to Notre Dame,” she said.

The two have received a lot of support while undertaking this production.

“I thought I’d have to fight the man … but we’ve been given the green light completely,” O’Donoghue said.

Van Mill said she hopes people will see the play “because nobody cares until they get hurt, and I think this is a way to drive it home. If nobody talks, they don’t know how many are being hurt.”

“This is a play that has a big influence here, and whether students are aware of it or not, they could be listening to the story of their best friend,” O’Donoghue said. “If we are going to be this Notre Dame community that supports itself, this is a prime way for us to do that.”

The performances will be held at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $5 at the LaFortune Box Office.

Feminine Voice will be holding panels after Monday and Tuesday’s shows, Van Mill said.