The Laramie Project is a collection of interviews regarding the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man living in Laramie, Wyoming. The true story was so horrific that the members of the Tectonic Theater Project felt it needed to be shown to audiences everywhere. On November 7, 8, 14, and 15, the play was brought to Malvern Prep by the Malvern Theater Society.
The Laramie Project was successful in so many ways. Primarily, its cast was downright phenomenal. Because the interviews were conducted with so many people, cast members portrayed multiple characters throughout the work. For example, Tommy Pero ‘17 portrayed both a judge and an owner of a bar, and he was distinguishable in both roles. Another actor who portrayed several characters was senior Phil Daubney, portraying both a doctor and an actor, as well as other roles.
What makes the work so groundbreaking is its controversial content. It discusses homosexuality in great depth, uses vulgar language, and even contains mild alcohol and drug use. These details, however coarse they may be, were necessary for the narration of the story.
Although The Laramie Project ran for nearly three hours, its content was so compelling that one would be hard pressed to stay away. It is certainly a step away from the normal formula Malvern Theater Society uses for its plays. For example, last year’s A Little House on the Side had a definitive plot. The character-driven Laramie Project, on the other hand, focused more on the emotions and opinions of the characters rather than the narrative.
Technically, The Laramie Project transcends each play I have seen in the Duffy Center. The border of the stage was covered in newspapers, each having headlines like “Stop Hate Crime” and “The War Over Gays”. In addition, television screens were set up on each side of the stage, showing pictures of the real Matthew Shepard, as well as his parents and the two men who murdered him.
The Laramie Project is not just a play, but a message. At a Catholic school like Malvern, we are taught that homosexuality in itself is not wrong, but acting upon it is. The play is a fine example of a group of people who loved and enjoyed the presence of Matthew, without caring about his sexual orientation. The play challenges its audience to love everyone no matter where they come from, how they look, or what their orientation is.