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South County Secondary High School The Laramie Project

By • Nov 10th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

“Hate is not a Laramie value”, but it was. In Laramie, Wyoming during October of 1998, a 21 year old man named Matthew Shepard was senselessly beaten to death because of his sexual orientation. Two young Laramie men were charged with his death. After his death, playwright Moisés Kaufman and a team from Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie to interview the townspeople about the murder. These interviews were compiled into a docudrama, The Laramie Project, which opened at the Denver Theater Center in March 2000 and was later turned into an HBO film.

South County Secondary High School executed this incredibly challenging play with great skill. The Laramie Project is very demanding in both the technical and acting fields. The cast and crew gave the performance their all, and with total success.

Although the set for this show was minimal, it was very technologically advanced. The stage was divided into three areas, each with its own projection screen, multi-level platform, and two pieces of fence symbolizing the fence that Shepard was tied to when he was beaten. A constant stream of images from Wyoming on the screens directly related the dialogue being spoken on the stage. During press conferences, live video feeds were shown on the screens. The lighting expertly conveyed the feeling of the show, starting out with a rainbow of colors and then switching to single colors to help portray individual emotions. All of these technical elements positively enhanced the performance.

The casting for this show was very complex, as the majority of actors had at least two different roles to portray – often complete opposites of each other. While Kevin Lutz (Doc O’Connor, a limo driver), Corbin Stewart (Matt Galloway, a bartender), and Jodie Awudetsey (Marge Murray, the mother of a police officer) brought a touch of comedy to the performance, a moving monologue from Kyle O’Connor (Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father) was very somber and brought many in the audience to tears.

South County’s powerfully emotional performance of The Laramie Project was very moving, leading the audience to reconsider their tolerance of alternative lifestyles. Above all, “the whole thing wraps around hope, H-O-P-E.”

by Amanda Hursch of West Springfield High School

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