The Laramie Project (2008)

Production Crew

 

 

Cast

 
DirectorRob Bell Amanda Gronich, Zackie Salmon, Kerry DrakeAlyssa Bender
Stage ManagerMatthew Howell-Clarke April Silva, Leigh Fondakowski, Eileen Engen, Newsperson #2Erin Brubaker
DramaturgDr. Kevin Pry Aaron Kreifels, Aaron McKinney, Doug Laws, Matt Mickelson, Andy Paris, Andrew Gomez, Jonas Slonaker, Governor Jim Geringer, Shannon, Jeffrey LockwoodBrian Dempsey
Assistant Stage ManagerDan Brophy Greg Pierotti, Sergeant Hing, Baptist minister, Cal Rerucha, Russell Henderson, Rulon Stacey, Dennis Shepard, Harry Woods, Conrad MillerCorey Greene
Front of HouseLisa Boyko Marge Murray, Barbara Pitts, Judge, NewspersonStephanie Henrich
Hair/Make-up DesignCast Judge, Sherry Aanenson, Reporter, Kristin Price, Newsperson #1Amber Ion
Set CoordinatorCasey Edwards Sherry Johnson, Jen, Tiffany Edwards, Baptist minister’s wife, Bailiff, NewspersonJamie Latshaw
Lighting DesignRobyn Stine Matt Galloway, Doc O’Connor, Jedediah Schultz, Stephen Mead Johnson, Moisés Kaufman, Anonymous friend of Aaron McKinney’s, Bill McKinney, Reverend Fred Phelps, Murdock CooperBen Long
PropsCast Romaine Patterson, Rebecca Hilliker, Father Roger Schmit, Newsperson #4Katie Meo
ProducerStephanie Henrich Zubaida Ula, Mormon home teacher to Russell Henderson, Foreperson, NewspersonKaren Oulahan
   Catherine Connolly, Trish Steger, Waitress, Newsperson #3Sarah Pugh
   Alison Mears, Reggie Fluty, Lucy ThompsonMelissa Rosenfeld
   Rob DeBree, Dr. Cantway, Father Roger Schmit, Shadow, Stephen Belber, Phil Labrie, Phil Dubois, Priest at the funeral, Gil Engen, Jon PeacockBrian Stefaniak

 

Set Construction: Dave Anderson, Jamie Lynn Latshaw, Robyn Stine, Dan Brophy, and Jackie Massey


Shortly after the brutal killing of young Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998, Moises Kaufman and his collaborators from the Tectonic Theater Project initiated a series of visits to the college town to collect information about the tragic events surrounding this celebrated case, which had attracted worldwide sympathy for the victim as well as made Laramie the focal point for the “cultural wars” dividing conservative and liberal Americans over questions of sexual identity, religion, and equal protection under the law for those from marginalized groups in our society. After several visits, which included the period of the trials of Shepard’s attackers, the Tectonic folks collected hundreds of local interviews, reams of news stories and public documents, and countless minutes of video footage, and began to craft a play about this controversial incident. Kaufman and his associates call their resultant work “tectonic,” observing that each piece of individual testimony they collect releases its energy and emotion most fully when the juxtaposed “moments” (as they call each individual scene) overlap, collide, and develop friction when broug


The Laramie Project is the result; it is a noteworthy example of an emergent genre of drama that has gained popularity in Europe and the U.S.A. since the 1960’s, a form of playwrighting (in its traditional sense of playmaking) now often known as “Theater of Testimony,” in which plays are created out of “found texts” such as news reports, government documents, trial transcripts, interviews, and memoirs. Theater of Testimony pieces are invariably topical, usually controversial, and possess an immediacy of impact on audiences who, aware that what they’re hearing is “the real thing,” are often disturbed and moved by the removal of the pleasant protective notion that a play is a work of fiction. The genre has produced works as diverse as German dramatist Pete Weiss’ The Investigation about the trial of some of the Nazis who ran Auschwitz, to American playwright Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice about the notorious assassination of gay activist city councilman Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone of San Francisco at the hands of a conservative former councilman. This genre’s tradition for having a capability to confront audiences with hard questions is carried forward admirably by The Laramie Project.

This excursion into the world of Theater of Testimony has forced the members of our theater company to learn some new acting techniques; among these are the problems of playing monologues directly through the “4th wall” of the theater and right at the audience, not so much interacting with their fellows onstage as pulling off the difficult feat of each having to lightly characterize multiple individual speakers with select bits of clothing, props, and “quotable gestures” while simultaneously keeping some emotional distance from the characters they portray and commenting on their relationships and motivations. The use of minimal scenery and onstage costume changes also remind the audience that while the words are authentic, the experience remains heightened and theatrical. These techniques, popularized in the politicized theaters of Russia, Germany and the U.S.A. during the European political upheavals of 1920’s and 30’s and the Great Depression, reveal the political and social-criticism pedigree of the Theater of Testimony genre. 

We hope that in using these complex techniques to bring you the Laramie Project, we do justice to the story of Matthew Shepard, the townspeople of Laramie, and the vision of Moises Kaufman and his friends—a vision that is prepared to ask the questions that jolt us when opposing ideologies collide and which may provide some answers that may enable us to weather the aftershocks

Dr. Kevin Pry,
Associate Professor of English, LVC '76, Dramaturg,
Executive Director/Advisor, the Wig and Buckle Theater Company