Actors, Audience Respond to ‘Laramie Project’


Credit: Williston Flickr.

Now that “The Laramie Project” is wrapped up, The Willistonian asked cast and audience members for their impressions on the controversial, exciting, challening play.

According to one of the cast members, Jenna Perry, a sophomore at Williston, the cast bonded through their determination to spread the message of tolerance and portraying the events in the harsh light of reality.

“After ‘The Laramie Project’ ended, it was just beautiful because it really brought the cast together,” Jenna said. “I feel like it taught people history, an important piece of history of the LGBTQ+ community, because it’s not really taught in school; [it’s] an example of suffering that the LGBTQ+ community has to go through.”

“The Laramie Project” is about a 1998 murder of a gay student named Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The play, which first hit stages in February, 2000, was among the first pieces of theater to shine a light on hate crimes.

Jenna went in depth to explain the significance of the play and how it resonated with the Williston community and the world at large.

“Of course with Matthew Shepard, the way he died, that’s the extreme version,” Jenna said. “Even today kids are still bullied, they are still beaten up. I think it’s less prevalent now but they used to commit suicide because they were openly gay and their community didn’t accept that. But by doing ‘The Laramie Project,’ I believe that we brought home the history and why it’s important to be accepting, and why it’s important to be an ally.”

One of the many students who went to watch was Anaya Akpalu 21′. She was impressed by the skill of the student actors with such challenging restrictions imposed on them by the sparse nature of the script.

“In general I thought it was really good acting; there was only so much you can do with it because it was just a play of monologues, speeches, and interviews,” Anaya said. “But they were able to convey the emotion behind the play, and I thought it was just a really good work of art.”

“I think it just brought forth an awareness in general about just how hate is not a new concept,” she continued.  “It’s important to recognize that hate so that we can figure out how to go about rectifying it and fixing it. So I think it brought that, and also just more sensitivity towards the LGBTQ+ community and people in general who are different, who are disenfranchised, just bringing awareness to those groups.”

Anne-Valerie Clitus, a sophomore at Williston, felt similarly to Anaya.

“It was eye-opening, just the fact that hate crimes against people who just aren’t straight, they’re happening today and they also happened many years ago,” Anne-Valerie stated. “They’re different names, but it’s still the same kind of crime and hate against people. So I think it was really eye-opening for a lot of people, including me.”

Despite the challenging, often ugly topics brought up by the play, CC Gray 21′ was very proud to see her friends step up to take on their roles.

“I think that they brought a really, really good emotional aspect, because seeing people I knew personally act out the story was just like heartbreaking,” CC said with pride. “They kind of brought it to life.”