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Loyal Daughters and Sons’ returns to ND

Tess Civantos | Monday, November 2, 2009

Notre Dame students will have an opportunity to see their most private stories and personal decisions played out on stage three nights this week in the fourth annual production of “Loyal Daughters and Sons.”

The play, which is made entirely for, by and about Notre Dame students, began as then-senior Maddison Liddy’s thesis project in the spring of 2006. Liddy used anonymous interviews with Notre Dame students to construct a play that explores gender and sexuality at Notre Dame. The play has since evolved with new directors and new interview material, but its purpose remains the same — to create healing, education and awareness of sexual violence.

“The script of ‘Loyal Daughters and Sons’ is a living document, so there is some old and some new material,” co-director Katherine Khorey said. “Some material is taken from interviews last spring, while we’ll also see some material from the first show that wasn’t in last year’s production. There’s always new material and stories we feel need to be re-told.”
Producer Ellen Rolfes  said because the play consists entirely of Notre Dame students’ true stories, it deeply reflects the community to which it is presented.

“The idea is to reflect what’s going on at Notre Dame right now,” she said. “We don’t choose what is represented. There are pieces which reflect opinions contrary to mine and there are pieces that I relate to. We are just facilitators of the material.”

A unique feature of the production is its inclusive casting, which creates a mixed yet unified community of performers.

“We never turn anyone away,” Rolfes said. “Anyone who auditions gets a part. People from very different social circles and life experiences are coming together and, to me, that community is the most important thing.”

Khorey and co-director Shay Thornton bring new perspectives to the production, which each director has treated very differently over the years.

“Every director has put her own personal spin on it,” Khorey said.

Liddy’s original production took place in the Decio Theater and featured an actual futon on stage, Khorey said, to bring home the student reality of the stories told. The second annual production ran in Washington Hall and the director focused on the characters’ “redemptive arc” by playing versions of the hymn “Amazing Grace” between acts. Last year’s play focused heavily on the theme of alcohol, with actors bringing more red Solo cups onstage between each act.

“This year, our theme is that ‘people just like you are telling their stories,'” Khorey said. “We’re working to bring the cast and audience together.”

 “Loyal Daughters and Sons” will take place in the Carey Auditorium in the Hesburgh Library at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This year’s production features 33 pieces in an hour and a half performance.

A panel discussion will follow Wednesday’s and Thursday’s performances, and advocates will be positioned throughout the theater to talk to audience members if needed.

“Parts of the show will be pretty intense so expect to feel strong compassion,” Khorey said. “Go in feeling calm and relaxed and be open to a range of emotions because the show deals with a range of perspectives and experiences. There’s definitely some humor in there as well.”

Khorey said she is hopeful that the play will create dialogue and, with time, bring about meaningful change.

She referenced a verse from the Bible, John 3:20-21, which says “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
“This verse talks about evil rejoicing in darkness,” Khorey said. “I’m hoping that with this show, we can flip on a couple of lights.”