‘Show Some Skin’ explores identity, uplifts voices of campus community
Siobhan Loughney | Friday, April 23, 2021
“Show Some Skin,” a student production engaging with personal stories about identity within the Notre Dame community, will livestream its 2021 rendition, “eXposed,” across campus Friday and Saturday. Every year, a call for stories for the production is issued in the fall, which welcomes anonymous submissions detailing experiences that illustrate the differences in identity across Notre Dame’s community. The monologues come from students, faculty and residents of South Bend and are brought to life by student actors.
For 10 years, “Show Some Skin” has been lifting voices and providing a platform to express the many unique identities formed by race, sexuality, gender and other identities that exist within the campus community. Now, as an annual staple in the spring calendar and a feature of the Moreau First Year Experience curriculum, “Show Some Skin” is celebrating 10 years of creating space for people who have felt marginalized in the tri-campus community. Senior Theresa Azemar, who serves as the executive director, said the production holds a special place in her heart.
“‘Show Some Skin’ is what I would consider to be my Notre Dame experience,” Azemar said.
The call for stories for “eXposed” asks, “From your own experience, what does exposure mean for you? Show us the difference between the world we see and the world you know. Expose to us what can be hidden no longer.” Despite the theme of exposure, the monologues remain anonymous in order to provide community members a way to voice their experiences without fear.
“Every piece that we have in the show — including the pieces that we could not include because there were so many — they all come from a place of radical honesty,” Azemar said. “There is a reason why someone would submit something so deeply honest and truthful anonymously.”
Azemar joined the cast of “Show Some Skin” as a first-year after receiving encouragement to audition from a friend. She felt out of place and unwelcome at the University — two of her friends had transferred out of Notre Dame and she was considering the same decision — but the community of “Show Some Skin” provided a place of belonging, Azemar said.
Since then, Azemar has taken on a new role within the show each year, progressing from actor to acting coach to assistant director, all before becoming executive director for the show’s 2021 production. She said the team’s welcoming community has had a profound impact on her.
“Finding ‘Show Some Skin’ was life-changing for me because I was introduced to a space where people actually wanted to listen to one another and embrace the differences between each other,” Azemar said. “I felt like I didn’t have to change any part of myself to be welcomed into that space.”
Although Azemar has a bird’s eye view of the production as executive director, she does not know the names and faces behind the monologues submitted for the production.
While “Show Some Skin” has created a space for expression and relief for some, it also provides an opportunity to challenge one’s ideas and perceptions of identity, junior and assistant producer Ashton Weber said. She said the monologues reveal the real struggles that people within the Notre Dame community come head-to-head with.
(Editor’s Note: Weber is a Viewpoint columnist for The Observer.)
Weber urged students to take a moment to listen to the monologues. Reflecting on the common perception of what it means to be a Notre Dame student, she noted the value of hearing perspectives from people who do not conform to what she believes to be the stereotypical identity.
“It really just shows how diverse and beautiful our community is but also how lacking our administration is in supporting students who don’t fit into that stereotypical Notre Dame student image,” Weber said.
Like Azemar, Weber was an actor in a previous production of “Show Some Skin” before moving up to an executive role. She was cast in the 2020 production, which was scheduled to take place the week after last year’s spring break. Despite in-person classes being suspended during the break, the production team ensured that their submitted stories would still be heard. Each actor recorded their monologue from home and submitted their clips to be compiled into a YouTube video.
“It was a really interesting experience of taking this thing that I had really been preparing to put on stage and changing it so that it would look okay on my iPhone,” Weber said.
In an effort to make the show accessible to as many people as possible, the cast has pre-recorded this year’s production, which will be shown at Carey Auditorium, DeBartolo Hall and Montgomery Auditorium. Student tickets are available for reservation through the student shop. A YouTube live stream will also be available for Friday’s show.
Weber said that even though students are increasingly aware of what they can expect to see at a production of “Show Some Skin,” there is a myriad of new stories and experiences to be heard each year.
“These are real stories of real people that are part of our community,” Weber said. “and for us to better engage with one another as students and as friends, it’s really important to understand what is happening to people on our campus and what different people are going through.”