Play Goes Deeper Than Story about Homosexuality
Miles, Arlene, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Arlene Miles Daily Herald Correspondent
Perhaps the production is misnamed and should be called, "Misconceptions" or "Misperceptions."
Either would be appropriate because that is what "The Laramie Project," the winter play at Bartlett High School, is all about.
"The Laramie Project," by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project, is about the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. It runs at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the school's auditorium, 700 W. Schick Road, Bartlett. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for students and senior citizens.
The murder was widely considered to have been a hate crime motivated by homophobia. Although the central subject of the play concerns homosexuality and societal reactions to it, the production is much more than that.
"People are coming here expecting to see a play about a homosexual kid and that's not what it's about," said cast member Brittany Harvey, sophomore. "We hope that when people come here, they will be educated."
"The Laramie Project" is about the aftermath of the crime and how it affected the citizens of Laramie, Wyo., and where it occurred, noted Kathy Miller, play director and faculty adviser. Responding to prejudice and showing tolerance and compassion are the production's messages.
"This is unlike anything we have ever done before," Miller said. "Usually we do musicals, and last semester we did a comedy. We're also hoping to have a multi-media presentation with a screen on the stage, showing one actor on the stage and another on the screen."
The production is like a live documentary. Many of the scenes are presented as soliloquies of characters voicing their thoughts, along with narration from an offstage actor. All actors are playing multiple characters, some as many as five.
"Some of us have to play completely different characters," said senior Ashley Schulter.
For example, junior Nathan Knox is in one scene where he plays a reverend who is staunchly against homosexuality, then proceeds to the following scene where he expresses the emotions of the doctor who treated Shepard. The doctor, while not coming out in favor of homosexuality, indicates he was appalled at how far-reaching hatred could be.
"The reverend was more out there and he was easier to play because it was easier just to be mad," Knox said. "With the doctor, it's harder to bring out the emotions."
With playing multiple characters, the actors also had to differentiate who they were portraying onstage.
"Not only do you have to remember your lines, but you have to remember what character goes with what lines," said sophomore Heather Morris. …