Laramie Project

Rachel_Girl's picture

Last weekend I was in my school's production of the Laramie Project it was awesome. I mean I cried by the end of every show but it was amazing to be a part of. For those of you who don't know, Laramie Project is a play that is made from a collection of interviews with people of the town of Laramie Wyoming after the beating and death of Mathew Shephard in 1998 because he was gay.

We had a rather large cast of about 15 people, we were originally only going to have about 10-12, everyone had at least two characters, most had four or more. Its an exhausting show to pull off, and we were worried we wouldn't be able to pull it off, and that there would be a lot of back lash, because not only did we not edit language, but the school is pretty right wing (our GSA isn't techinically a school group because the activities committee, part of student council, voted that they didn't want one -- and a boy gymnast/dancer wasn't allowed on the cheerleading squad because they didn't want our school to be represented in *that* way). But we had really good feed back from the people who showed up, so that was great, and we got a lot of the audience to cry every show which means we reached them, so that was great.

The two heardest parts of the show for me were when I had to play a Fred Phelp's supporter and carry this awful sign that said "God hates fags", it was all in bright happy neon colors. I wanted to vomit the first time I saw it. I had to hold that thing and look like I meant it. I managed to pull it off. I actually got comments about how freaked out that part made people feel. We're thinking about ceremonially burning the signs after awards night. :) The other hard part for me was listening to the characters Murdock and Conrad. This is what they said:

CONRAD MILLER: Well it's preached in schools that being gay is okay.

NARRATOR: Conrad Miller.

CONRAD MILLER: And if my kids asked me, I'd se them down and I'd say, "Well, this is what gay people do. This is what animals do. Okay?" And I'd tell 'em, "This is the life, this is the lifestyle, this is what they do." And I'd say, "This is why I believe its wrong."

MURDOCK COOPER: There's more gay people around than what you think.

NARRATOR: Murdock Cooper.

MURDOCK COOPER: It doesn't bother anybody because most of 'em that are gay or lesbian they know damn well who to talk to. If you step out of line your asking for it. Some people are saying he made a pass at them. You don't pick up regular people. I'm not excusing their actions, but it made me feel better because it was partially Mathew Shephard's fault and partially the guys who did it...you know, maybe it's fifty-fifty.

(Tectonic Theater Project. The Laramie Project . Vintage Books. New York: 2001)

It wasn't as hard to listen to Aaron McKinney's confession, probably because I was ready for that, prepared for that but hearing the above words just really shocked me, everytime. I know that people think like that. I know people who think like that. But I had to keep myself from flinching everytime I heard those words.

There is also the wierdness of it being my last highschool show, and since it was the weekend after my last day of class even wierder. I'm gonna miss this/them.