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‘Notre Dame: Unfiltered’ presents monologues and advertises campus resources

| Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dominique DeMoe

Each spring for the past seven years, through a series of performed, anonymous monologues, Notre Dame’s “Show Some Skin” has provoked and encouraged its audiences to reflect on issues of identity and difference, especially as they intersect with race, gender, class, sexual violence, LGBTQ+ life and mental health.

Yet as Samuel Jackson, a junior who acts in “Show Some Skin,” points out, “problems don’t have a season.” This is where the abbreviated performance and discussion session, “Notre Dame: Unfiltered,” comes into play. The event, which takes place tomorrow in the LaFortune Student Center Ballroom from 7 to 9 p.m., presents a selection of monologues from previous “Show Some Skin” performances while seeking to connect students, especially first year students, with on-campus resources early-on in their first semester. In order to get more students through the door, attendance at the event is incentivized with the added bonus of free food and entry with a student I.D.

“‘Unfiltered’ was founded to create a safe space to have guided dialogue about these serious issues, especially for people who might not have the space to do so elsewhere,” Abby Wolfe, one of the co-organizers of the event, said. Wednesday’s event will consist of four 30 minute segments, where two or three students perform a monologue from a previous “Show Some Skin” performance. After each segment, student leaders will facilitate discussions at their tables about the performances and answer anonymous Q&A questions from their groups.

As veteran “Show Some Skin” actors well know, performed monologues can often provide a necessary ice-breaker to confront difficult topics. “I think it’s important to think about the monologue as a human being, and not as a performer,” Savanna Morgan, a junior and assistant director for “Show Some Skin,” said about her role. Monologues are submitted anonymously to “Show Some Skin” by members of the tri-campus and South Bend community, and actors spend months memorizing and rehearsing their monologues.

“At the end of the day — what acting is, or should be, is telling the truth,” Morgan said. Through anonymously-submitted pieces, “someone is giving you a microphone to amplify their own voice.”

The key to performing a monologue effectively, Morgan said, is “understanding someone else’s human experience, not as a spectacle or entertainment.” As Jackson put it, the “homework” for the ”Show Some Skin” actors is to attempt to deeply understand where their individual’s monologue is coming from, even if they personally disagree or have not lived that person’s life. “Bridging that gap, and understanding the motivations, is the key that makes any actor go, ‘Oh wow. That’s what empathy is,’” Jackson said. 

With “Notre Dame: Unfiltered,” organizers hope not only to introduce students to the community of “Show Some Skin,” but also to a larger network of resources. Organizations and clubs involved in the event number in the double digits: Student Government, First Year of Studies, Gender Relations Center, Multicultural Student Programs and Services, PrismND, Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy, Diversity Council, Active Minds, Muslim Student Association, Men Against Sexual Violence, BridgeND and the Gender Studies Program are all listed among the participants.

“This way, we can be proactive rather than reactive,” Wolfe said. “We want first-year students to know, within the first month they get here, that there are people and places on campus that will help them… college is a challenging time, but there are people here to help,” she said.

“We always have stories,” Jackson said. “Unfiltered” represents “the beginning of a journey toward spreading [the show’s] wings, beyond just a weekend performance.”

Morgan said that “Unfiltered,” now in its second year, fills a critical gap in the school year. In her experience as a first year student, “having to wait all the way until the middle of second semester to see that there are other like-minded people [on campus] … That was a long time coming.”

“I would like for first years to come to ‘Unfiltered’ and see right off the bat that there are other people who can validate their experiences.”

“Notre Dame: Unfiltered” will take place on Wednesday, September 12 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the LaFortune Student Center Ballroom. Students will need a valid I.D. to enter for a night of discussion, monologues and free food.

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