WRA's Fine & Performing Arts Department to present "The Laramie Project"

WRA's Fine & Performing Arts Department to present "The Laramie Project"

Please join us for WRA's production of The Laramie Project in the Knight Fine Arts Center.

Friday, Jan. 26 | 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 27 | 8 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 28 | 2 p.m.

*Please be advised that this play contains mature themes and depicts the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, a victim of a hate crime.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

From January 26 – 28, WRA will perform The Laramie Project – a challenging play that explores the the heartbreaking murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year old man who was targeted for his sexual orientation. The play details the myriad perspectives of those who lived in Laramie during the time of Shepard's death.

"I cast 16 actors that play 75 parts, and they mostly stay on stage the entire time," said Director and Fine & Performing Arts Departments faculty member Donalee Ong. "The play depicts actors in a theatre company interviewing members of the Laramie townspeople, and they become the people they're interviewing. It's a huge undertaking for everyone involved, but the work is very powerful."

Though the content of this play is at times difficult because of its strong language and mature themes, because WRA and its students champion equality and diversity, our cast members have accepted the challenge and strongly encourage attendance.

"I think that this play is something that most people need to see whether they want to or not. It's important because it shows a diverse range of perspectives but does not steer the audience into judgment," said Joey Houska '20.

Suraj Dakappagari '20 agrees with Houska and is excited to be a part of The Laramie Project "because the show covers important topics about acceptance and equality that need to be shared."

Ong affirms that her student cast is both mature and up to the challenge.

"Sometimes the real world isn't very pretty," said Ong. "Art can be used as a lens to carefully examine why things are not where we want them to be."

Miranda Namiotka '20 agrees with the play's importance and, for her, it is one of the most powerful and emotional performances in which she has participated.

"I play the responding officer who first saw Matthew — Reggie Fluty," said Namiotka. Throughout the play, she has multiple monologues that describe what she saw at the fence. "These moments are so incredibly raw that when I read my lines I feel like I am actually at the scene of the crime."

Unlike many other plays WRA has performed in the past, The Laramie Project intentionally will not use an elaborate set. Instead, it places the focus on the story and characters on stage.

Jasmine Wheeler '20 is a stage manager for the play and is amazed at how the cast is able to create different scenes using nondescript black stage blocks.

There will, however, be video projections and audio recordings sent to WRA by the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which will play during the performance. The school is grateful for their support.

Founded by Shepard's parents Dennis and Judy following the tragic death of their son, the Matthew Shepard Foundation exists to "ensure safety, visibility and inclusiveness for the entire LGBT community." Whenever a school or theatre decides to perform The Laramie Project, the Matthew Shepard Foundation offers its support.

The full cast list includes Casey Semple '18, Suraj Dakappagari '20, Wema Wachira '18, Spenser Valentine '19, Lexi Shoemaker '18, Noah Luch '19, Nupur Malhotra '19, Henry Ong '20, Joey Houska '20, Noah Frato-Sweeney '20, Miranda Namiotka '20, Audrey Rhea '21, Sang Hun Kim '18, Kali Chapas '18, Sasha Davis '18, Ananya Chetia '20.

Jasmine Wheeler' 20 and Brooke Ashley '21 are the stage managers.