Last summer, as I was dreaming of what this production of Show Some Skin would look like, entering its second decade of performances and returning to this stage for the first time since 2019, it seemed the rest of the world was dreaming of life after the pandemic. A new word was entering into our collective consciousness as we navigated the space between mourning and rejoicing, balancing anxiety about ongoing threats and the promise of renewal after a long winter. The word? Emerge. When we talk about emerging, there is an assumed transformation, an acknowledgment that the person you were before is not the same as the person you will be. So we asked you: What does it mean to live in this space of renewal, of reconciliation, of recognition? What does it mean to emerge?
For those of you who responded, I am eternally grateful and humbled to be able to give voice to your words. What I saw was a community bursting with authentic love and defiant joy, a community interested not in wistful hearkening to the good old days, but one determined to wear their continued survival and flourishing as an act of resistance against those systems that would seek to keep us silent. In the pieces you will see tonight, there will absolutely be pain and trauma and brokenness, but there will also be hope. I invite you to listen for it – to let it renew you for the work ahead.
To my actors – there are no words to describe how proud I am of each and every one of you. Week after week, you showed me what it really means to be vulnerable, to be brave, to listen deeply and speak courageously. Thank you for letting me wake you up early on Saturdays, tackling every weird warmup I threw at you with unrestrained enthusiasm, and for the love you showed each day. It is my sincerest hope that you allow these pieces to live inside you, to guide you in creating more empathic communities.
At its core, the mission of Show Some Skin is to embody this promise: “I will carry your story with you so that you do not have to bear it alone.” As you listen to these stories, let them sit with you. Ponder them. Hold space for them in your mind: the sorrow, the joy, the anger, the frustration, the calm. And then, if you feel ready, pick one up and carry it for a while. Let it transform you. Let yourself emerge.
All my love,
Because of the covid pandemic, Show Some Skin: 20/20‘s Washington Hall performances were cancelled. The production team, however, recorded their individual monologues for an online performance, which premiered on YouTube on April 23, 2020.
Thank you for coming! The impact of the words you will experience in this theatre tonight will be different from that of the person next to, behind, or in front of you. I invite you, the individual, to open your eyes to the self-reflections offered in this production.They say that hindsight sees 20/20. When we look backwards, we see what has already happened, and we have our experiences between then and now that have helped us evolve. We know more, we see more, we ask more when we reflect backwards. The reflections offered in tonight’s monologues are equally rooted in criticism as they are inspired by hope and a passion for true community. With such high stakes in 2020, their messages do not shy away from the political or the highly-controversial. Each distinct monologue was chosen amongst many to offer a space for members of the Notre Dame community to reflect on how our shared, yet competing, histories manifest in our careers, our lives, our behavior, our present actions.
We created this show with the intention of seeing and hearing our stories of identity and difference with total clarity. What do you see clearly in 20/20?
Executive Director, 20/20
2019 Drop The Wall
The response and support for Show Some Skin: Drop the Wall this year has been phenomenal. Receiving more than a hundred stories and auditioning around 50 brave individuals, we have been humbled and reminded time and time again why this show is important. We need these stories. We need people to hear these stories. And with that, I thank each and every one of you for attending this performance. The more people get to see this performance, the more of an impact it will make on campus.
Over my four years of involvement with Show Some Skin, I’ve asked myself a lot of questions about its overall purpose and mission. Do we seek to reaffirm and strengthen the perspectives of those who have seen the show before? Or do we hope to challenge people who don’t necessarily agree with us and invite them to view things from a different perspective? But the more I asked myself these questions, the more I realized that I had built a wall between two different experiences of the show. Walls divide us, both metaphorically and physically. We build walls between each other and within ourselves. We keep people from getting in, and we keep ourselves from getting out. And in doing so, we lose each other’s side of the story and can no longer hear each other. This year, we hope to create a space where we can hear each other from the other side of the wall.
I invite you all to listen to these stories with an open mind. We hope these stories encourage and challenge you to improve the Notre Dame community.
Only when we stop to listen can we begin to heal.
And with all that being said, I share a quote that you will hear later in the performance. Let it sit in your mind. Reflect on it. Thank you, again, and enjoy the show.
“I have made a little chink in the wall. I picture the opening being one brick in size and about the height of a little girl’s eyes to see through. I will always be his daughter and he will always be my father, but sometimes we have to agree to disagree so that we can still see and love other memories about and continued experiences with each other.” – Anonymous
With love and sincerity,
2018 Try Us
Last winter, at the end of Show Some Skin: Break the Silence, I was walking to my car after closing night and I thought to myself, “How can we expand, even more, the variety of voices, opinions, and stories that are heard in the show?” Everyone last year heard a few of the prison monologues thanks to the “Inside, Out” class, but how do we continue to take Show Some Skin places that it hasn’t gone? We can all agree that, despite whatever you may believe in, socially or politically, conversations on sexuality, abuse, class, gender, race, and mental health are happening all around us every day. Fortunately, everyone is aware of these conversations, and everyone has something to say. In these moments, it’s easy for us to just listen, and don’t get me wrong . . . listening is extremely important. However, it is also in these moments that we hold back our words, our opinions . . . lose our courage to speak out. Why? Why, do we do this? Well, often times, I think we tell ourselves, “Ah, there’s no use, they wouldn’t get it.” No, no, no, my friends. On the contrary, it was through this frustration that this year’s leadership team settled on the show’s theme. Think we wouldn’t get it? Try Us.
The response to this year’s theme has been amazing. Show Some Skin: Try Us broke records as we auditioned more than 80 brave souls, and received close to 100 anonymous monologue submissions. After an intense Storyboard process, many tear-jerking rehearsals, and hours of reflecting on and shaping these stories, Show Some Skin: Try Us was born. This cast is without a doubt the most special, talented, and thoughtful group of people I’ve had the pleasure of directing. 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 I have one quote for you that you’ll hear in the last piece of the show tonight. Let it linger on your brain, and enjoy the show.
“As you watch the pieces move all around you, you wonder how you did not see the car coming or how you could not have slowed down and somehow, someway have fixed your life so that maybe the pieces would not have fallen this way.” ~ Anonymous
2017 Break The Silence
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.
2016 Who Matters
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.
2015 Tell Me More
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.
2014 Be Bold
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.
2013 It’s Complicated
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.
2012 The Race Monologues
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.