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05 August 2012 @ 08:21 pm
Returning to Laramie  
I spent my childhood in Laramie, Wyoming... but left with my family ten years before Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in 1998. It's a subject that haunts me, as it has haunted countless others in the intervening 14 years, in part because of my own conflicted, adolescent feelings for Laramie itself.

I've been back to Laramie a few times, both in imagination and reality... the last time being in 2003, when I was in rehearsals for "The Laramie Project" outside of Philadelphia. I took a roadtrip from Denver, up through Wyoming to my grandparents' farm, stopping in Laramie on the way back to the airport to visit my dad's brother and sister. It was largely as I remembered it growing up, particularly the main area by the railroad tracks and the university itself, with its lovely gardens and walkways, where I had once played as a child.

Perhaps it was being in a production of the play at the time that made me feel so disconnected from the events there... as if it were nothing more than a theatrical event from which I could disengage. I didn't recognize myself or anyone I knew in the characters portrayed on stage; and it was a technically complicated production that served to create a barrier between the words and feeling... and so it seemed the play could be about any town but Laramie.

So here I am, nearly ten years later, about to open a production of "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later," and it's a shock to realize that I see myself in all the characters. The play itself is a work of great simplicity and maturity, as much as the original play was a work of youthful energy and idealism. Perhaps it's that maturity I respond to; the writers and original performers had the confidence and sensitivity to step away from the subject enough to let it speak for itself, without forcing it to be anything but a contemplation on the nature of fear, denial, and healing.

And for the first time in years, I listen to the final words of the play, as I stand on stage, and I can see Laramie stretching out below me, the Gem City of the Plains, in all its wonderful and terrible complexity.

If you're in the Philadelphia area, I hope you can stop by and catch The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. It's conveniently located in center city at Plays and Players Theatre at 17th and Delancey Streets, and is produced by Quince Productions.

For the schedule and tickets, Click HERE. It runs in repertory with other plays during GayFest in August. I think it's an important play to see, and an important story to remember. Regardless of where you live, it's part of our history.

click to make bigger

Photo by Kyle Cassidy, with Ryan Walter and John Schultz
Kambriel: visioluxuskambriel on August 6th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
Spending so much of my time in gay danceclubs/bars growing up out West, and having only moved from the region a few years before the murder happened, it hit painfully close to home as I remembered what it felt like, the open & unapologetic anger/hostility/threats shown to kids who were willing to be openly different.

I wish our trip had been timed as such to come see this production ~ I'm sure it would be incredibly moving.
Ross BenderRoss Bender on August 6th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
Is Laramie anywhere your sister Bronwyn's goat farm?

Look forward to seeing you in the show.

A huge fan.
trillian_starstrillian_stars on August 8th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
Thank you, Ross! I hope you enjoyed the show!
rocket_jockeyrocket_jockey on August 14th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid Philly is a little far for me... Sorry to have missed wishing you well for the premiere. Break a leg the rest of your run!
handwornhandworn on September 20th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on Geek of the Week!