Review: Fall Play The Laramie Project

Lily Gray ’20 and Vedika Sharma ’20

On November 2nd and 3rd, Concord Academy’s Performing Arts Department staged its Fall Mainstage Production, The Laramie Project. It is a play from 2000 about the reaction of Laramie, a struggling town in Wyoming when two members of their community ruthlessly tortured and killed Matthew Shepard, a gay college student. The play discussed larger issues of homophobia and hate crimes while focusing on an event which shaped American civil rights’ history. The script is based on hundreds of interviews with members of Laramie, such as residents, employees, students, and law enforcement.

With direction from Megan Schy Gleeson, production management by Janie Howland, and technical direction and sound design by James Williston, the production moved smoothly and captivated the audience. The visual and decorative aspects of the production such as the set design by Janie Howland props design by Maggie Kearnan, lighting design by Bridget Doyle, costume design by Elizabeth Rocha, and music arrangement by Tai Oney told a story applause-worthy on their own. Props such as the umbrellas, televisions, and fallen chairs contrasted with the monotonous, beige costumes that the talented ensemble members, an effect that set the scene for the audience physically and mentally.

Members of the cast played multiple roles, switching between representing the original cast of The Laramie Project, who conducted the interviews depicted in the play, and the citizens and community members of Laramie who were being interviewed. This style of performance provided an interesting juxtaposition of the two opposing groups in the play, uniting them through the actors playing their roles.

This production is timely and important as it examines some of the biggest issues we deal with today, and it is also in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the school’s GSA, originally standing for Gay-Straight Alliance, now named Gender and Sexualities Alliance. CA was the first independent school and one of the first schools in the nation to offer such a group for their community, in order to provide a safe, supportive, and open-minded space for LGBTQ+ youth and allies. The production team was also lucky to work with GSA Liaison, Kendall Bartel, throughout their creative process.

Now that the fall mainstage is over, the CA theater department looks ahead to the performance of the musical Hair, directed by Shelley Bolman, as the winter mainstage program.