“The Laramie Project” sequel soon to hit the black box stage

Staples Players will be producing the spring black box show, “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,” with a small cast of just 18 students. The production will feature a select group of actors and actresses performing in an intimate setting to continue the story of Matthew Shepard and his murder that shook the LGBT community and the nation. After staging“The Laramie Project” last year, co-directors David Roth and Kerry Long decided to have Staples Players continue with the second chapter of the trilogy for a number of important reasons. For one, not only was the motivation to challenge Players with a very difficult play, and be among a select handful of high schools to perform the Laramie Project cycle, but also to place emphasis on the vital principles that the script conveys. The plays tell the story of a young gay man’s death, and the after effects on the people of the town of Laramie, Wyoming.  According to the web site for the plays (thelaramieproject.org), “Matthew Shepard was savagely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in the frigid night. Characterized as a hate crime, the murder became a watershed historical moment in civil rights in America.”

“We feel the messages are huge. The first play examined a town’s unraveling and dealt with how and why people HATE. The second play deals with change and complacency,” Roth explains. “How do we affect change when we forget important issues that are not in the forefront?”

The concept of the show taking place 10 years later is to demonstrate how tragedy can shape a town and how reactions and opinions evolve as time progresses. Jackie Rhoads ’18, an actress in the show, agreed that the purpose of the show is to teach tolerance, a necessary continuation of the tragic event, “It teaches and discusses the importance of serious issues in our society and how people’s outlooks can change so drastically over time.”

Kayla Bilotti ’18, assistant director of “The Laramie Project:10 Years Later” describes the importance and differentiation of the sequel. “‘The Laramie Project:10 Years Later’ is different from the first show in that it analyzes what impact Matthew Shepard’s death has had in the community in a period of 10 years,” explains Bilotti. “The people of Laramie struggle with how to measure change… it allows the audience to see the importance in keeping his story alive.”

A common theme throughout the Staples Players community regarding the upcoming show is the essential importance of conveying how American society must grow to accept and establish unwavering civil rights for those of all races, genders, and sexualities. Staples students should see “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” to embrace the concept of acceptance. In the words of David Roth himself, “The story itself is riveting… [it] will blow your mind!”