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  • Writer's pictureZoe Schuldrenfrei

Fall Drama Spotlight: The Laramie Project

In October 1998, Matthew Shepard -a college student in Laramie, Wyoming- was brutally beaten and strung to a farmer’s fence post using rope. On the night of October 6, 1998, the gay American student was tortured and left to die near the town of Laramie simply because he identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community. This vicious attack garnered national attention, and in November of that year, several members of the New York Tectonic Theater Project conducted interviews of residents living in Laramie. The company then created a play compiled of their transcripts and interviews to honor the legacy of Matthew. The hours of story gathering, interviews and the unfiltered heartbreak surrounding the tragedy created a play called The Laramie Project.

22 years after this horrific event, Edgemont High School will be performing the play as the Fall Drama. Mr. DeVito, the director of the play, said, “I chose this play because I love it. It’s beautiful the way it comes together. It is also a show that we can perform during COVID-19. I believe that it is still current to the present times, and it’s awesome that Edgemont gets the chance to portray Mattew’s story.” The Laramie Project as he mentions is very relevant to the current climate of America because hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community are at an all time high. Putting on a show that addresses this issue brings awareness to our community. Since The Laramie Project is an interview based play, there is absolutely no contact between actors, keeping the show Covid safe. Actors will keep their masks on at all times and maintain social distancing.

The Laramie Project has been rehearsing after school as well as utilizing the transition window from 11:07 AM to 12:33 PM. By doing so, Mr. DeVito and cast are able to polish scenes. Evan Cohen, a senior participating in the play, believes that, “the hybrid model allows for a transition period and we can get the whole cast together and have an extra opportunity to rehearse.” On the other hand, sophomore Justin Friedberg says, “As a student who goes to school in the afternoon, it’s pretty stressful to have to wait in the massive line of parents picking up their kids. Nevertheless, I’m extremely grateful for every minute of rehearsal we get so that we can truly produce a great show for anyone and everyone to see.”

The cast of the play is ecstatic to be able to have a show this year amid the chaos of Covid-19. Senior Olivia Reduto said, “I feel so lucky to be able to perform a fall drama this year in person of any kind, especially since it is my senior year. Not many other kids have as much access to the arts as we do, this year especially, so we are grateful for the opportunities we have. In addition, I hope that The Laramie Project will bring to light issues that still exist today. As a cast, we have a responsibility to portray Matthew Shepard’s story in the most accurate and best way that we can”. Sophomore Amanda Scherer is also excited for the show. “Having the Fall Drama means so much to me especially in these uncertain times, being back on the stage after so long is special. It’s amazing to be able to portray this story because it’s really one that needs to be told. I’m thrilled to be a part of this fantastic production!” Between the cast members there is a special understanding that Mathew’s story must be told, and it is an honor to be able to tell it.

Over 2 decades later, The Laramie Project still stands as a timely play. The Matthew Shepard Foundation’s mission is to amplify the story of Matthew Shepard in hopes of inspiring individuals and communities in embracing the dignity and equality of all people. It is great that Edgemont’s art program is supporting the important mission of The Laramie Foundation. The Laramie Project will have its premiere on Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14. Both plays will be performed at 7 pm. You can stream the production by making a donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Please look out for an email from Mr. Hosier to obtain the viewing link, and we hope to see you all there!

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