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Student performance promotes discussion

| Thursday, April 7, 2016

DSC_0002Becki Jeren | The Observer

The 10th annual Loyal Daughters and Sons (LDS) show, a student performance exploring sexuality, gender relations and relationships, previewed at Saint Mary’s in Little Theatre last night. The show will open on Notre Dame’s campus Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium in Hesburgh Library.

The production, which consists of monologues adapted from anonymous interviews and written submissions from students about their past experiences, is intended to start a dialogue about sexuality and sexual violence on campus, said Notre Dame alumna Emily Weisbecker Farley ‘07, the show’s creator, in a statement included in the show’s program.

“I wanted to challenge the audience and make them think, and I wanted the material to be undeniably real and honest and relevant,” she said. “Drawing from the campus community and including as wide a range of experiences as possible was a way to try to give each audience member something to connect with, which might in turn leave them more receptive to hearing and digesting the rest.”

Senior Skyler Hughes, co-executive producer of the show, said the show’s theme this year, “What’s Next?” is intended to recognize the progress still needed.

“We were thinking, okay, so LDS has been around for 10 years now [and] it started a conversation on a lot of issues, but now that there’s a conversation going, what’s next?” he said. “What’s next on dealing with sexual assault as a community, but also, what’s next on LGBT issues? What’s next for gender relations?”

The show highlights the community’s need to move forward with this conversation, sophomore co-writer Dominic Acri said in an email.

“Writing [and] editing the stories for stage helped me realize that no matter how much we spread awareness about these topics, we can only see change if we are willing to ask, ‘what’s next?’” he said. “Now that we are comfortable sharing our stories and hearing the stories of others, it is time for us to move forward and continue to conversation.”

Senior Anthony Murphy, the show’s director, said he credits the students willing to share their stories with the community for the production’s success.

“What I’ve learned in the past week, even, is just how important the stories are,” he said. “It’s not the acting, it’s not my direction — the stories are what hold this performance up.”

This year’s show was able to feature a balance of monologues about different subjects due to the increased number of student submissions, Hughes said.

“This year, we got more submission than we have in the past couple years,” he said. “We were lucky that it covered a broad range of issues and we were able to show that onstage.”

The performance is framed as a tour of Notre Dame’s campus for prospective students, with each location mentioned featuring two or three monologues relevant to that specific place. This aimed to emphasize the fact that these stories all come from members of the Notre Dame community, Murphy said.

“The objective was kind of to make these topics salient, based on location,” Murphy said. “These things do happen on campus and that our friends, our classmates, our colleagues, are walking around with this baggage and maybe we’re not all alone. We’re not all so different.”

While LDS is a helpful step in addressing issues surrounding gender and sexuality at Notre Dame, the community needs to take specific action, Hughes said.

“I think that Loyal Daughters and Sons can be a really good part of how we move forward on these issues as a community, but it does take action outside,” he said. “Part of what somebody can do is come and hear these stories, and then that helps them learn more and know more and know what needs to be addressed. But there also needs to be concrete action taken … There are actionable steps and this show, I think, is a starting point in a conversation, but it’s definitely not an end in itself.”

“What’s Next?” runs until Saturday and will feature a panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. after the Saturday matinee performance.

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a senior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, who recently wrapped up her year as Editor-in-Chief. She is a former resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

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