by Cate Tauriello
This past weekend, on October 16th through the 18th, the Govenor Thomas Johnson High School theatre group that joins theatre students from all schools in Frederick County, performed The Laramie Project.
The Laramie Project is a series of interviews, press conferences, and court hearings on University of Wyoming student Matthew “Matt” Shepard who was beaten and left to die by two men because of his homosexuality. Shepard was taken late at night on October 6th, 1998, was found, and died of severe head injuries six days later at a hospital in Colorado.
The three-act show was riveting, emotional, and certainly opened up the audience’s eyes to the maturity level of the students involved in the show. Students played a variety of roles from neighbors to judges to defendants.
Walkersville High School senior Mallory Donaghue said “It was difficult portraying different roles because they are real people. They weren’t just made up, they are real people that this tragic event affected.” The homicide definitely shocked the college town of Laramie and questioned their beliefs, “These are they’re [people of Laramie] real words they said. You have to get it right and do them justice.”
Evan Wormald, a senior at Oakdale High School and actor at GTJHS said “My favorite part of doing the show would be that we get to show people that there is a problem with hate and ignorance. We try to portray a story to show people that you have to get all those thoughts out of your head of what’s wrong is wrong and what’s right is right, and instead you have to love everybody and erase hate.”
While the subject of this play is controversial, it does provide different perspectives from the public eyes to the jury’s views to the bartender who saw Shepard the night he was taken.
When asked about the changes between GTJHS theatre and WHS theatre, junior Claire Raimist says “The directing styles are different, so I’ve learned different ways of approaching scenes or characters, and now I have multiple strategies to pick from.”
The program for theatre students encourages students to become better actors and is for students who are considering pursuing a career in acting. “One of the many great benefits of the program is that it allows students, who are serious about theater performance, a chance to focus intensely on a variety of techniques and skills for three hours a day with students from around the county who share that desire,” says director and theater teacher at GTJHS Jason Hoffman.
The Laramie Project was a incredibly moving experience and undoubtedly a challenge for students to distinguish different roles while only changing parts of their costumes to help the audience recognize the actor was playing a different role. Ian Anderson, senior at GTJHS who played multiple roles said “I look for different parts of myself in each character and build on that.”
Cate Tauriello and Stacy Ukishima