The Laramie Project

  • By Moises Kaufman and Members of the Tectonic Theatre Company
  • Troupe: Studio 58
  • Director Diane Brown
  • Set Design: Ross Nichol
  • Costume Design: Rebecca Sorensen
  • Lighting Design: Itai Erdal
  • Slide Design: Tim Matheson

    Venue: Venue Studio 58, Langara College

    Dates: 26 September - 13 October 2002
    Reviewer: Jane Penistan

    Set in rural Wyoming, this play tells the story of the aftermath of the horrendous murder of a young gay man. The inhabitants of Laramie are shocked by this crime, but they are forced to examine their beliefs and social mores in their efforts to discern who is really guilty of this violent offence. The script is derived from interviews with the townspeople by members of the Tectonic Theatre Company and compiled by Moises Kaufman. This makes a powerful drama demanding a large cast.

    The director, Diane Brown, wisely uses a bare stage, with two mobile sets of bleachers. The backdrop is a screen on which appropriate slides are projected, keeping the audience informed. There are small areas on either side of the main playing space which are lighted for small incidental scenes. This stark simplicity gives the actors a quick change of venue by the use of specific lighting. The re-arrangement of the bleachers is accomplished either behind a screen of cast members performing a scene or as part of the action and this keeps the narrative flowing without interruption. At times the actors speak from the auditorium, bringing the audience even further into the scenes.

    The many cast members play multiple parts. While the dramatis personae are introduced by name, each character is clearly defined and well delineated -- no mean feat for inexperienced actors. Costumes are used to denote professions, but otherwise are generally everyday small town.

    This stripping down to bare necessities in the set and costuming echoes the depth of the examination of the origin of the hate and bigotry, which precipitated this crime. The very soul of the town is laid bare on the dissecting table.

    As an exercise in characterization this play is excellent material for students, but it is much more than this. It is an investigation into modern behaviour and ethics. This play is for all time as well as our time.

    The Laramie Project runs from26 September to 13 October, Tuesday through Sunday at 20.00, with Sunday matinee at 15.00 at Studio 58 at Langara College, 100 West 40th Avenue, Vancouver.
    Tickets Tuesday to Thursday $15 general admission, $14 for students and seniors; Fridays and Saturdays are $16 per person and both shows on Sunday are half price or $8 per person. For information and reservations, please call Festival Box Office at 604.25.0366.

    Jane Penistan. 2002

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