A review of the powerful, student-run “Show Some Skin” performance
Though the “Notre Dame family” is a means of identity cited by what seems like everyone associated with the university, individual experiences of those of different race, class, sexuality and faith do not always live up to the standard touted by the campus community.
These generally unspoken stories of struggles with identity and difference on campus are brought to light through Show Some Skin: Be Bold, a student-run stage production catalyzing discovery and appreciation of diversity.
Show Some Skin has had a significant influence on Notre Dame’s campus since its inception three years ago. With every single showing of the performance selling out, it is evident that students are eager to engage in the dialogue regarding diversity on campus. Sophomore Clarissa Schwab, director of this year’s production, commented to the Rover on the appeal of Show Some Skin for its audience:
“People want to hear these stories. You could hear them other ways, through the internet, etc. But they are drawn to it because it is their own community; this is Notre Dame. We love to talk about things going on within our space.”
The show is comprised of a series of monologues, which are submitted by anonymous writers within the Notre Dame community. The student producers, assisted by faculty advisors Dr. Cecilia Lucero, Professor Nicole McLaughlin and Film, Television and Theatre’s (FTT) Kevin Dryer, supply a variety of prompts in order to aggregate as many perspectives as possible.
Edith Cho, founder and former director of Show Some Skin, emphasized to the Rover the immeasurable appreciation the production staff has for the anonymous writers.
“Show Some Skin has, thankfully, earned the respect and trust of these anonymous writers in community that we will respect their view despite their biases and value what they have to say,” she remarked.
Each year, Show Some Skin features an entirely new cast of actors, many of whom have no previous acting experience. Jen Ho, an actress in this year’s production, attested to the impact of the novelty of relating her personal experiences to her performance.
“I do not have much acting experience, so because of my same experiences, I definitely felt more pressure to convey these issues the author wrote so well to the audience to the best of my abilities,” Ho said. “Hearing the audience’s reactions for each line I performed was exhilarating. For some reason, it never crossed my mind that they would really listen to what I had to say, but they did.”
Ho delivered a moving monologue titled “Watermelon Clouds,” which addressed the tendency to make overgeneralizations based on preconceived stereotypes. The monologue, enhanced by the production’s transition from Carey Auditorium to the DeBartolo Performing Arts center, parodied this phenomenon by relating it to equating watermelons to clouds.
“‘Watermelon Clouds’,” Ho told the Rover, “is a monologue that I can 100% relate to. Every situation the writer wrote in the monologue has actually happened to me in real life at Notre Dame, believe it or not. I cannot count the number of times people have asked if I eat dog, or what it tastes like, nor can I count the number of times that guys would think ‘eating with chopsticks’ is a great skill to have when ‘picking up Asians’.”
Above all else, Show Some Skin has been a building process resulting in a dynamic identity that allows for the incorporation of a wide variety of themes and experiences within the community. The production serves as a vessel for these stories, a stepping-stone for their entry into the Notre Dame dialogue.
“We are a soundboard for the complex marginalized voices, complicated identities, exploring what they would like to say. We enable them to reach out to the people that they want to tell to be more supportive. Whatever their message is, each story is a different angle,” Cho explained.
The monologues are a highly effective medium for introducing these topics to campus conversation. The highly personalized, emotionally-charged method of storytelling creates an expressive, cathartic means of articulating the pain experienced by community members from discrimination and alienation.
Schwab told the Rover, “To actually have a face, face not equaling the writer, but having a personal account being personally said through a medium which is storytelling by means of actual voice-that’s what draws people in. To have this story coming out of an actual person and have that experience unfold before them is what makes Show Some Skin special.”
According to Schwab and Cho, the future of Show Some Skin is full of possibility and new opportunities for engagement. The production is opening campus dialogue to broad issues, but the mission of this movement is far from complete.
“Show Some Skin made me realize that each year the voices teach us more, how much we need this on this campus and how much more work there is to be done. This is not to be the end of the discussion. This is not enough,” said Cho.
Catriona Shaughnessy is a freshman who lives in Farley Hall. She plans to study psychology, and she enjoys dancing across North Quad and savoring her go-to dining hall treat of froyo mixed with her cereal of choice. She can be contacted at email@example.com.