The Laramie Project hosted at Walkerville Auditorium had a unique feel to the presentation of a serious event that changed the lives of many.

Walking into the theater, lights were low and hosts directed the guests to take a closer vantage point by sitting on the stage or as close to the stage as possible. I did not know what to expect when the lights went on above me.

My eyes were focused on the actor in the center as I sat on the left side of the stage. Speaking in all black attire, each performer began to make their way to the center describing the people of Laramie, Wyoming.

Taken by surprise when the first voice shouted out behind me, actors started to pour out of the crowd in all different sections. Keeping you aware of your surroundings in every area of the theater.

Pictures were displayed on a large screen as the actors were presented by a speaker announcing their character roll. Each rotating and changing voices to adapt to the person they represented in the scene. In the beginning it was hard to keep up, the actors were shuffling every where and it was hard to recognize who was playing which character.

After a couple of minutes my heart began to weep as I learned of a young man named Matthew Shepard. The story of his death, the town and the young men who murdered him. The world was watching and tonight as I sat learning of this young gay man who changed hearts around the world with his suffering.

The auditorium echoed the voices of the performers. No music, no costume changes, only lights, a LBGTQ flag and black boxes filled the stage before me. It was a very dry performance. A different approach to a play unlike anything I have seen before.

The first half talked about the people involved and the brutal death of a man who was murdered because he was gay. With the growing pressures of equality for all in this generation this play, in my opinion, was delivered in the prefect time of our ever-changing society.

Intermission took place I realized how restless I had become sitting on stage with the lights on me. I took a moment to stretch and walked outside as I tried to inhale the scripture I had just watched being performed.

Coming back into the theater, I decided to take a different approach and sat in the center seats at the back. This was not only more comfortable but gave me a great perspective on the performers as they went through the details of the trial.

The second half was much shorter than the first, but it gave me serval heart throbbing moments that had me thinking ‘wow’ in disbelief. The circumstances of Mathew’s death, the guilty verdicts of the accused and the feelings of attachment to the father of Mathew who spoke in court. These were all captivating performances.

They used colours of LBGTQ flag, that was hanging under the projector screen on stage, to categorize actors in different performances. I was impressed by their use of fabric and little hints of colour to make different props and separate the different characters from another. This pleased me in the second half and had me paying closer attention.

Overall, I would say that this theatrical performance was very educational. I do think that more use of props in the first half would have kept my attention better, however the heart that these performers gave was undeniably captivating to witness. The Laramie play had me researching the events long after the play was over.

Photo from Walkerville Centre for the Creative Arts Facebook page.

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