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Leland Drama’s fall play: the Laramie Project

By Eleanor Gil Dec. 14, 2023

Performed by Drama this fall, “The Laramie Project” is a unique play that aims to spark meaningful dialogue around sensitive real-world issues, underscoring the significance of equality for and social acceptance of members of the LGBTQ community. This play is about the 1988 hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man in Laramie, Wyoming, and its impacts on the community.

Saachi Basavaraju Art


Drama usually alternates between drama and comedy plays. This fall, they chose “The Laramie Project’’ because Drama director Melissa Webb, Visual Performing Arts Department, wanted to tell a story that was timely and had a significant and relevant message, with the rise in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and legislation in America.

Drama has put substantial effort into the production of “The Laramie Project,” with so much happening both behind the scenes and onstage. Members of the cast choose and assume the roles of various characters, even adding their own twists and adaptations into the play. One actress, Sophomore Faith Greer, reminisced about how much fun she had playing multiple roles by emphasizing certain idiosyncrasies of each character. For example, Greer played Marge Murray, for whom she created a big, loving, contagious personality. Greer brought Marge to life by giving her a heavy country drawl and always sauntering on stage with her hands in her pockets, which she believed her character would do.



William Huang Photo


Saachi Basavaraju Art

In order to help the actors shine on stage, Drama’s crew works hard backstage. Part of


the crew designs props, costumes and sets, and some work in media to promote the show. Others manage the lights and sounds in real time. Sophomore Anna Kochanska, a crew member in the sound department, explained that this play was the most technically difficult they have had so far because they had to change how they operate mics to adapt to the unique interview-based nature of the production. Her department was also in charge of all sound cues, including music between scene changes and the quiet music played to highlight certain moments. Creating costumes varying in complexity and design was also challenging, which Junior Sophie Xu experienced firsthand working as Head of Costumes.

“There were 69 characters and only 15 actors, meaning we had to make costumes that were quick to change into and out of, but also had clear enough differences so it would not be confusing to the audience. Quick changes were also a challenge with so many characters, since some actors only had about thirty seconds to do a full change. Nevertheless, the challenges were definitely worth it because we get to hear about audiences’ positive experiences and see everything come together so nicely at the end. It is always such a pleasure working with the people in my department,” Xu said.

Saachi Basavaraju Art

Invariably, the play was a huge hit. Many audience members expressed that the play made them realize the impact one person’s death can have on an entire community, pushing them to raise awareness and fight for positive change. Sophomore Stephen King reflected that the play opened his eyes to the horrid extremes of homophobia and also to how many people at the school are part of LGBTQ community and have had negative experiences as a result. King applauds the cast’s unbelievable job of evoking emotion, stating that the actors went far beyond simply reading a paper script and transformed words into tangible, distinct characters. Another audience member, Sophomore Eleanor Kang, believes the play was filled with immense heart and effort from the actors.

“From the play, I learned an incredible amount of history—such as how one community handled homophobia—and found out that not much has changed and there still is work to be done to achieve full respect and acceptance for the LGBTQ community,” Kang said.

Saachi Basavaraju Art

It is common for people to be emotionally detached to issues they witness in the media. In contrast, live, in-person productions covering real-life topics often prove to be more powerful because it is difficult for people to ignore these issues when they are acted out in front of them. In this manner, plays have the power to move people, as several students in the audience have expressed. This is especially the case with the school’s fall play, where every line was taken from an interview with a real person. In high school drama, where the storytellers have an audience that is willing to listen and learn, a feeling of unity is fostered between students that are performing and those that are in the audience that no ordinary classroom setting can bring.

 

About the Contributors

Eleanor Gil

staff writer


Eleanor Gil is currently a sophomore at Leland High and an enthusiastic writer for The Charger Account. She spends her free time cultivating her deep passions for environmental sustainability and renewable energy, neuroscience and psychology, the law, tennis, and viola.

Saachi Basavaraju

artist


Saachi Basavaraju is a freshman at Leland High School and works as an artist for The Charger Account. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, reading, listening to crime and horror podcasts, and rewatching clips from her favorite movies and shows.


William Huang

photo director


William Huang is a senior at Leland High School and is the Photography Director for The Charger Account. During his free time, he loves to watch shows, play with his dog, and sleeping.

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