When selecting the theme for this year’s show, it was impossible for us to neglect the social and political climate that is characterized by the suppression of contrarian voices and the condemnation of difference. Our nation had been divided on issues such as race, gender, sexuality, religion, and socioeconomic status. Break the Silence asked the writers of these monologues to consider the cost of silence and to share parts of themselves that have been misunderstood, oppressed, or marginalized when we remain silent. This year’s show reflects every time we held our tongues because of the stigmas we feared in speaking up.
In 2012, our first performance, The Race Monologues, explored the experiences of people of color within Notre Dame’s community. Since then, the show’s evolution has explored the complexity of our identities and challenged our preconceptions about what makes us different. The narratives of our writers are only pieces of their stories. These stories reflect the experiences by which they are shaped--not defined.
In this performance, twenty-three actors have bravely taken on the responsibility to represent these stories of vulnerability and reality, Although these narratives may not be their own, they approach their monologues with the utmost sincerity and respect as they strive to honor the voices of our anonymous writers.
So we ask you to listen to these stories with an open mind, free of any preconceptions so that you can consider the world from a different point of view. We hope that through this show we can spark a discussion from which we can all learn and appreciate our differences, but the conversation only starts when we break the silence.
We have carefully selected this year’s theme to challenge our audience to consider, question, and declare: Who Matters. When we decided on this theme, we set out with a goal: to invite writers to not only tell us about times when they have felt heard, but also when they have felt unheard. The writers of these monologues have given Show Some Skin the great honor of taking these stories and providing a platform upon which they will be valued, shared, and most importantly, heard.
Each year, Show Some Skin takes on a new theme and title, inviting different reactions and monologues from the writers. This production first took the stage in 2012 as The Race Monologues, in response to a racially charged incident that took place on Notre Dame’s campus. What once served as a response has evolved into one of the most prominent conversation starters at this university. Now in its fifth year, Show Some Skin: Who Matters continues to take a closer look at the countless layers of our identities that are to be valued, and follows the overall mission of Show Some Skin in giving voice to unspoken stories about identity and difference.
For this performance, twenty-four actors have bravely stepped up to aid in the sharing of these stories - stories that could have been written by anyone around you. We invite you to embark on this journey with us. In presenting this challenging material, it is our hope that you are able to learn, grow, and have an experience that ultimately transforms the way you see this beautifully complex world, in which every one of us deserves to be heard. A world in which every one of us truly matters.
Thank you for listening.
Each year, Show Some Skin asks a different question of the Notre Dame community. In our first year, it was a question of race: What is it like to be a person of color at Notre Dame? In our second year, Show Some Skin: It’s Complicated asked the question: What does it mean to be you? Last year, we asked you to be bold and to finally say the things that you have always wanted to.
We ask these questions because we believe they are vital, and because we believe in the transformative power of sharing individual stories. At its core, Show Some Skin as always been about listening with an engaged and willing heart and an open mind to the voices that have been silenced, submerged, or forgotten. The act of truly listening to a story changes it, and gives the listener the chance to inhabit the lived experience of another person. It also gives the storyteller a chance at validation, empathy, and perhaps even revision.
This year, we asked you to tell us more, to think harder and dig deeper into the experiences and emotions that make up who you are, who you’ve been, and who you want to be. We received nearly 100 anonymous submissions from just as many walks of life, and though we cannot showcase them all, we have entrusted a small fraction of these monologues to the actors you have come here to see tonight. Each of the actors has committed themselves to share these stories faithfully and with the utmost respect. Though the experiences that the actors share tonight may not be their own, they all seek to honor and uplift these voices.
This show is an invitation to listen to each other, to encounter a moment of genuine vulnerability and realness, and to engage in dialogue about difference and identity. We hope that tonight will prolong and enliven ongoing discussions, and mark the beginning of many conversations to come.
Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves.
The anonymous writers who contributed the monologues featured in this production answered the call to be bold and share their stories. Boldness is not merely exhibiting a lack of fear or the absence of weakness. Being truly bold entails overcoming one’s fears and acknowledging one’s weaknesses. These writers captured their fears, weaknesses, thoughts, and experiences and wove them into personal monologues. We are here to share them with the Notre Dame community.
The Show Some Skin production team passed on the writers’ monologues to bold actors. The actors on stage are not necessarily the writers of the monologues they perform, nor do they necessarily agree with what is contained in their pieces. Every aspect of the production treated the pieces with the respect they deserve. The actors took on each story as their own during the progression of rehearsals, stepping into the writers’ shoes in order to give the most authentic representations possible. Show Some Skin hopes to pay homage to the writers and their stories over the course of the performance.
Show Some Skin evolved through the performances of The Race Monologues, It’s Complicated, and finally this year’s production of Show Some Skin: Be Bold. Despite the changes in title and venue, our mission remains the same: to give voice to unspoken stories about identity and difference of any kind. Show Some Skin offers a necessary platform on this campus for marginalized voices to be both heard and honored. The Show Some Skin community provides a forum of open dialogue and discussion to bring these topics to the forefront of the everyday Notre Dame conversation.
Anonymity in the virtual space comes with no responsibility attached to it. One may comment or now even submit anonymous secrets without any consequences beyond the screen. Anonymity in Show Some Skin contrasts to this. The process of Show Some Skin requires an underlying level of courage for the writers to submit their monologues due to the fact that these stories become the center of discourse for the production. The anonymous writers behind the stories have a spectrum of attitudes and understanding—stories are not neatly packaged. Each year, the anonymous writers push the boundaries of the production further. They show us the unexplored paths for our production.
After last year’s production, many audience members were confused that the actors on stage were not the writers of the monologues. The actors are leaders who come from various niches of our Notre Dame community. They stepped up to fill in the shoes of the anonymous writers. Rehearsals center on pushing ourselves to consider all possible interpretations and to build up characters with complex dimensions. We will never know what the authors truly wanted to convey. The actors now stand on stage in front of you, despite their own fears and disagreements and sometimes personal hesitations about the monologues. Much sleep was lost on our attempt at representing the people behind anonymity.
We hope the production to be an ever evolving group that questions the dominant narrative at any given moment in time. Wherever this takes us, we hope to open up the discourse to be inclusive of the marginal voices.
The actors on stage for this performance are not portraying their own experiences but searched their hearts to embody the monologues. Twenty one actors and three directors from various backgrounds came together to teach each other—snip bits of lessons ranged from definition of F.O.B. (‘fresh off the boat’ meaning immigrants or international students) to much more serious discussion on the usage of ‘wetbacks’, referring to undocumented migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
These stories do not always reflect the values of inclusion, multiculturalism, and anti-racism. and we struggled with this messy reality. Many of the writers showcased holding dual tensions--loving Notre Dame but hating the sometimes racially homophobic environment, embracing anti-racism but not knowing how to act by it, and so forth. These stories require in-depth reflections.
We believe we have a hopeful message to share through this performance. People have shared their stories anonymously with the hope of being heard. People have come forth as actors with the hope of giving a voice for those who are rarely heard. Finally, you give us hope that our conversation will go beyond this production. The concepts of diversity, race, and multiculturalism do not belong to one person or one organization. We think everyone should be talking about it. This production was our effort to act. We can’t wait to see what you will do.
Peace, Edithstein Cho
After each performance, we ask audiences to share their reactions to the show. We are honored to know that Show Some Skin has had a powerful impact on audience members, the campus community, and the actors themselves.
It was magnificent! Acting was superb, variety fantastic, stories beautiful and funny and heart-wrenching. I’ve never been prouder to be at ND than when I sat in the theater, witnessing the passionate actors, the souls of the authors who wrote the monologues, and the students and faculty and family who came to support the show. Everyone was captivated and deeply affected by the stark and genuine presentation of this huge issue on ND’s campus. You have done more for interracial understanding, respect, and appreciation in one evening than decades of other efforts have been able to achieve.” (Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues, 2012)
This performance was amazing! I felt that everyone had a wonderful moment in the spotlight and their perspectives were well-developed and acted out on stage. Topped last year’s performance, and that’s saying a lot. My feelings were very similar to many of the monologues. I felt isolated, down on myself and confused, before I finally found a group of similar-minded friends to fall back on, and this performance reminded me of my vulnerabilities, and made me realize that I am not alone, and there are folks who still need help.” (Show Some Skin: It's Complicated, 2013)
Moving, amazing. I feel satisfied, lighter, as if weights I have been carrying were lifted." (Show Some Skin: Who Matters, 2016)
Best thing ever! Raises so many thoughts & feelings & new conversations & so important on this campus! I was really struck by how this performance captured the multiple layers of marginalization and privilege/intersectionality that are so important to each person's idenity. I'm also in a multi-racial, ethnic, & class relationship, so 'Love Sees All Colors' was really dear to my heart. Thanks so much!" (Show Some Skin: Who Matters, 2016)
One of the most formative experiences I've had at Notre Dame has been participating in Show Some Skin. Back in high school, I wasn't in a long-term relationship the way my sister was. To a point, I felt like I couldn't love or be loved. When I participated in Show Some Skin, I was given a monologue by an author who felt she had a 'gay disease.' I ate, slept, and lived with that monologue, trying to understand the character, trying to get into their head. I had never discriminated against someone who is gay, but I also feel like I grouped them into a category and didn't see them as many, many individuals. As I practiced the monologue, I started to love this author. I started to see inside her. And I thought, I could never hate this girl, because I know and love her. After the final night of performance, someone came up to me and said, 'Hey...you performed the monologue that I wrote.' And I was stunned. I said, 'You are exactly how I pictured you.' I'm still friends with her now. I knew her and loved her as a person before I ever met her. Truly, this show taught me that I am capable of loving and am capable of being loved. It's so easy to generalize any group of people, to hate them and discriminate against them. But when you're one-on- one, it's impossible to hate them. You see their vulnerability. This is so important, especially in college. And Show Some Skin is addressing that head-on." (April Dan Feng, Actor, Show Some Skin: Tell Me More, 2014)