The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Laramie Project to premiere tomorrow

The Chappell Players’ latest production, The Laramie Project, debuts tomorrow night.

The show runs in the Little Theatre from Thursday, March 25 through Saturday, March 27.

The Laramie Project was written after Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was assaulted, tied to a fence and left to die because of his sexuality. This brutal event, which was deemed a hate crime, occurred in 1998.

Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project conducted more than 200 interviews with people from Laramie, Wyoming, piecing together a play about the reactions of those in the town and their own experiences as well.

“The production is a message of tolerance,” said senior Amy Ziolkowski, the stage manager of the show. “It’s still an important message about hate, tolerance and it’s topics and arguments are even more relevant today.”

Ziolkowski said that the 10 actors in The Laramie Project are playing 60 roles, posing a challenge for the actors, and making costumes an important part of the play.

Sarah Goncalves, a senior Chappell Player performer, has multiple roles in the play.

“I always keep the script in my hand backstage to get into the character so I’m ready to be the person,” she said. “It’s been difficult juggling everything.”

Goncalves spoke about the challenges of creating a production of The Laramie Project, since the characters are all real people, and still living today.

“In the past we were playing characters so we could exaggerate,” she said. “But with
The Laramie Project, it’s very subtle but we also have to make a distinction between characters so it’s been difficult.”

Junior Keith Plokhoy, who directed the play, said that The Laramie Project is not a conventional play.

“We can’t depend on the regular build and falls of the narration,” he said. “It is a distinct category of theater called documentary theater. It’s different and much harder to direct.”

Both Plokhoy and Goncalves spoke about preconceived notions audience members might have about the play, due to the nature of Shepard’s death.

“The Laramie Project is not about being controversial,” Plokhoy said. “It’s not about homosexuality and hate and the [Catholic] Church. It’s about how an event can affect the town and change it forever.”
Goncalves shared similar sentiments.

“Many have a preconception that the production preaches pro or anti gay or is a controversy against religion,” she said.

“But it’s a personal story. It’s about the people and how they were affected by this event.”

Plokhoy said he hopes the audience makes a personal connection with the characters in the show.

“My hope is that the audience can sit here and listen to the story and realize this could happen in their own town,” he said.

“I want them to watch the characters’ reactions and how they changed. I hope they can connect with the town on a personal level.”

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