The Laramie Project 'Laramie is a town defined by an accident, a crime'

The Laramie Project

Weston Studio, Bristol Old Vic Theatre

Key Information
  • Dates Thu 20 Feb 2020 - Sat 29 Feb 2020
  • Location Weston Studio, Bristol Old Vic Theatre
  • Evenings

    8pm

  • Matinees

    3pm

  • Ticket price

    £12

Laramie is a town defined by an accident, a crime

A play by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company

 

Laramie, Wyoming.

Population, 26,687

 

‘Laramie is a town defined by an accident, a crime. We’ve become Waco, we’ve become Jasper. We’re a noun, a definition, a sign.’

 

This remarkable play investigates the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 and the effect it had on the community of Laramie.

Through news reports and interviews with residents of Laramie, Kaufman’s play uses the words of the locals to examine this shocking example of homophobia in small town America. The Laramie Project challenges us to consider society and what it means to be human as it swings from narratives of deep hatred to great compassion.

 

Age 14+

Contains scenes which some may find upsetting – see trigger warnings below for more information

Contains haze, strobe and flash lighting

Image credit: Hide the Shark

 

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd

 

Find our full Spring Season Brochure online.

Cast

Elias Adojutelegan – Philip Dubois/Moises Kaufman/Father Roger Schmit/Dr. Cantway

Rory Alexander – Stephen Belber/Matt Mickelson/Gov Geringer/Conrad Miller/Rob Debree

James Burman – Jedadiah Schultz/Matt Galloway/Aaron McKinney

Tian Chaudhry – Leigh Fondakowski/Romaine Patterson/Zubaida Ula/Newsperson

Esmée Cook – Eileen Engen/Marge Murray/Sherry Aanenson/Mormon Teacher/Newsperson

Isobel Coward – April Silva/Amanda Gronich/Reggie Fluty/Shadow/Jen/Newsperson

Olivia Edwards – Alison Meas/Kerry Drake/Shannon//Email Writer/Newsperson

Nancy Farino – Rebecca Hilliker/Waitress/Tiffany Edwards/Lucy Thompson/Newsperson

Nimshi Kongolo – Gil Engen/Jon Peacock/Baptist Minister/Phil Labrie/1st Bailif/Cal Rerucha

Al Maxwell – Greg Pierotti/Sgt Hing/Judge/Murdock Cooper/Judge (Henderson trial)

Sarah McCormack – Zackie Salmon/Kirsten Price/Aaron Kreifels

Mark Milligan – Doug Laws/Anonymous Friend of Aaron McKinney’s/Bill McKinney/Priest at funeral/2nd Bailiff/Harry Woods/Jonas Slonaker/Newsperson

Alice Moore – Trish Steger/Barbara Pitts/Catherine Connolly/Sherry Johnson/Minister’s Wife

Sebastian Orozco – Doc O’Connor/Andy Paris/Rulon Stacey/Andrew Gomez

Danial Radze – Stephen Mead Johnson/Jeffrey Lockwood/Rev. Fred Phelps/Russell Henderson/Dennis Shepard

All other parts will be played by members of the company.

Creative Team

Director Nancy Medina

Assistant Director Laura Hensley

Set Designer Carly Brownbridge

Costume Designer Bea Wilson

Lighting Designer Jenny Roxburgh

Sound Designer Danny Davies

Movement Director Michelle Gaskell

Fight Director Jonathan Howell

Voice and Dialect Coach Carol Fairlamb

Dialect Coach James Gitsham

Producer Frances Macadam

Production Manager Jon Sherwood

Production Supervisor Ruth Sidery

Stage Manager Maddie Coward

Deputy Stage Manager Charlotte Woolley

Assistant Stage Manager Ella Lovelady

Production Electrician Joel Williams

Lighting Operator Mary Bennett

Sound Operator Tom Codd

Video Operator Elkie McCrimmon

Construction Manager Andy Scrivens

Construction Assistants Alastair Barrows, Eliza Podesta, Elkie McCrimmon, Chantel Blackwood, Kirk Bishop, Mary Bennett, Tom Codd

Prop Making Manager Ambra Fuller

Scenic Artists Heidi Broad, Alistair Campbell, Bethany Hastings, Jean Wong

Costume Supervisor Isabel Cope

Costume Assistants Katie Vaccara, Lizzie Thomson, Jasmine Barron, Laura Pogose, Charlie Elmont

Q&As

Find out more about the show through the Q&As with our wonderful students!

Laura Hensley - Assistant Director

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

Being the assistant director on Laramie entails lots of different tasks. I’ve been asked to carry out research on various aspects of the play, the context and the characters, and to feed this back to the cast. It’s also been part of my job to be available to the actors to discuss their characters, and to run some rehearsals recapping scenes while Nancy stages new ones, to best use our rehearsal time.

 

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?

I chose to study directing at BOVTS because the course is really practical and is bespoke for each of the four of us. I’ve loved getting to assist for lots of directors with differing methodologies, reflecting on their practice and what I can take and make my own.

 

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?

I love getting to work on text projects with the actors. Last term I worked on Mike Bartlett’s Contractions for a week, and it was good to have a space to test out techniques I may not have tried before, and to work towards establishing a methodology of my own, applying this all to a great piece of writing with some brilliant actors.

 

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?

One of the challenges is that the play is verbatim; all of the characters are real people, so we’ve endeavoured to treat them all with respect and to not make a caricature of any of them. The cast have gone above and beyond in their research, and are basing a lot of their acting choices in facts that we can discern about the real people of Laramie. The play itself is very fair and measured, and we’re making an effort to be fair in the way we portray the people

 

Who should come to see The Laramie Project?

Everyone.

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on The Laramie Project?

The whole team have been incredibly emotionally available, and it’s just a pleasure to be in the room. The subject matter is heavy, but everyone is working with such sensitivity, and we’re also finding the light moments that we can bring out through each character’s journey in the play. The Laramie Project is a story about a tragic event, but it’s also a play about hope.

 

Danial Radze - actor

BA Professional Acting Student Danial Radze

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

Like the rest of the cast I multi-role throughout the play but my main characters are the REV. FRED PHELPS, RUSSELL HENDERSON and DENNIS SHEPARD.

FRED PHELPS is a homophobic preacher and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church who believes, without question, that god hates homosexuality and will punish all homosexuals in hell for the sin of being gay.

Obviously, this is a challenge for me as PHELPS couldn’t be further from myself in terms of age, religious beliefs and perceived, righteous morality.

RUSSELL HENDERSON is a young Laramie resident who is accused and convicted of the murdering of Matthew Shepard but, for his crimes, he seems to feel a tremendous amount of remorse.

RUSSELL is quite complex in that he’s described as sweet and caring by several characters throughout the play despite being capable of playing accomplice to murder.

DENNIS SHEPARD is the father of Matthew Shepard and the public face for the majority of the news coverage during Matthew’s hospitalization, death and the trials that followed.

Given that I play DENNIS mere minutes after playing RUSSELL, those shoes will prove quite challenging to fill.

 

Who should come to see The Laramie Project?

While it certainly isn’t a show for children or the faint hearted, it is a beautiful recreation of the events that followed Matthew Shepard’s beating, abandonment and death.

I’d heartily encourage any theatre enthusiasts, members of the LGBT+ community and the public in general to come and hear this story we have to tell.

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on The Laramie Project?

Character explanation has been at the heart of our rehearsal process – this has  been my favourite part of all rehearsal processes I’ve ever been a part of.

Esmeé Cook - actress

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

I am playing the roles of Marge Murray, Eileen Engen, Sherry Aanenson and Mormon Teacher.

 

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?

One of our biggest challenges, as actors, is honouring the real people whose words we’re speaking, making sure we’re making informed choices about who these people it were and how these events affected them.

 

Who should come to see The Laramie Project?

Everybody. Hate crimes are so prevalent today that this play still feels hugely relevant.

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on The Laramie Project?

The challenge of figuring out who these people were or are from just their words and whatever google throws up. You might have just an image and a date of birth, along with a short snippet of interview to go on, so forming a fully-fledged character, which is as close to reality as possible, is a really exciting challenge.

 

Daniel Davies - Sound Design

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

I am the sound designer; my job is to create and produce the overall sound for the play working with the director to ensure the needs of the play are met.

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?

Having studied technical theatre at college I wanted develop my training further by gaining practical and professional skills from industry tutors with years of experience. If you have a passion for theatre and want to work hard apply, you will be rewarded with great experiences and the time to develop into the right career path for you. There is no pressure and plenty of support from the tutors to help guide you.

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?

It must be The Elephant Man; the whole production was fantastic. From building a giant crate that was the main feature of the show, to seeing it actually in the venue and functioning. Not to forget being in a costume and moving it on stage.

Who should come to see The Laramie Project?

Anyone and everyone who loves a true story and is looking to experience all the emotions and thoughts alongside these characters. This show will constantly ask you questions about us as human beings and how our decisions and opinions can affect other people’s lives in a good or bad way.

What have you enjoyed the most about working on The Laramie Project?

I have loved the chance to work closely with the director, and how we develop this play supporting it with sound and music to bring out all the emotions and seriousness of this play.

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the audience?

We as a creative time are looking to throw the emotions from the very start and leave the audience with a very serious message. My Sound design will put you in the boots of those in Laramie, Wyoming and I will throw some very moving effects and music, that will sometimes make you feel uncomfortable but it’s important that you come along and see why.

Students drinking coffee in Clifton Village
The training provided by the MFA programme is superb. The depth with which we explore, paired with unyielding curiosity that is met with the most knowledgeable, passionate, expert tutors is what makes BOVTS programme one of the finest around. I feel honoured to call BOVTS my grad school. Rachel McVay, MA Professional Acting Student