- PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
- PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
- ... COME MANY : Delilah Shank, Kerry DiMaggio, Valerie Slitor, Darrell Haynes, and Caitlin Steinmann bring the voices of Laramie to life.
The Tectonic Theater Project has resisted this trend; one month after Matthew Shepard’s death nearly one dozen company members descended upon the city of Laramie, Wyoming. One year and 200 interviews later, the company had the base material for The Laramie Project, a performance that gave voice to the townspeople while telling Shepard’s story. Since its debut in February 2000, both universities and professional theater companies have staged The Laramie Project. And on Oct. 12 Cal Poly will host the debut reading of Tectonic Theater Project’s follow-up piece, The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, directed by recent Cal Poly theater and engineering department graduate Jeffrey Azevedo.
“Originally, because I love theater, this was an opportunity,” said Azevedo, who was approached by the theater department about directing the project. “I love to be involved with theater. As I got into the project and learned more about the circumstances, I began to think it’s very important. It’s still an issue. Ten years later a lot hasn’t changed.”
Cal Poly’s performance coincides with more than 125 other readings being staged at theaters and universities across the country, and serves as the highlight of the university’s National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11). While Azevedo doesn’t have a full-scale project, and the costume and set challenges that attend such a performance to contend with, the cultural and social significance of The Laramie Project undeniably raise the stakes.
Auditions took place on Sept. 25, a mere two and a half weeks before the reading. The cast of 10 people doesn’t have to worry about line memorization, and overall the production is simple, with an emphasis on text. As with the previous Laramie Project, the production jumps around a bit between characters and perspectives. The Tectonic Theater Project refers to these segments as “moments” rather than scenes.
While the Tectonic Theater Project has kept Shepard’s name alive, the aim of the Laramie Project is not to cram beliefs or political leanings down an audience’s throat. Its aim is simpler—to tell the complex story of a young man’s murder and the consequences for a small town in the country’s least populous state.
“I think it strives to not necessarily advocate a particular position,” said Azevedo, of the script. “After reading it there’s a sense that progress is slow. It’s hard work to change people’s mindsets.”
Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach thinks that if progress is slow, then people are too. Send tales of forward motion to email@example.com.