ECC Theatre remembers the town of Laramie

Vanessa Passo, Staff Writer

Laramie, Wyoming, circa 1998-1999, is a small town with large soul.

The town may have quite the ‘boring’ stigma attached to its name, but the story that resides among the mountains and greens is far from ordinary.

On the night of April 27, about thirty people gathered in Elgin Community College’s SecondSpace Theatre to find out why.

The Theatre of Elgin Community College held a production of The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theater Project. The show is directed by Susan A. Robinson, including a 13-person ensemble to portray the story of Laramie citizens after the devastating murder of Matthew Shepard.

A 13-person ensemble is not quite large, considering the amount of roles each member played. Due to the number of people interviewed for this project, the cast portrayed each character in various, yet subtle ways, adorning themselves in different articles of clothing to give the audience a more clear distinction between their various roles. However, each cast member played their various roles with empathy- each character came alive as the story of Laramie unfolded, scene by scene. Some cast members feel strongly about the message they got to be a part of.

“I believe that this production is another wake up call for everyone. What happened to Matthew Shepard was a hate crime, but something that people may fail to realize is that a hate crime can be something as small as talking bad about someone, spreading rumors, or name calling. If it’s not positive then you’re beating someone up even if you aren’t physically doing so. The message of this show is to show people that although there is bad in every single person including myself, we can make good out of the bad,” said Quamie Hayes, ECC student and ensemble member of The Laramie Project.

The set design was simplistic; lighting deemed to be the predominant  factor in this production. Spotlights shined down upon the characters as they shared a piece of Shepard’s story, and how they each fit into it in a different way. The rest of the theatre was dim, and no other feeling than intimacy resided among the cast and crowd.

I believe the simplicity in few props as well as the street-fashion (i.e. blue jeans, flannel shirts, Converse sneakers) deemed the production personable and genuine.

Fancy costumes, intricate melodies, flashy props or dance numbers were not needed; heartfelt monologues, conversations, warm and emotional dialogue and characteristics were what highlighted the story of Shepard and Laramie. The message of Shepherd needs to be heard, as well as the underlying message, as spoken by ECC alumni and ensemble member, Jovanna Franco.

“This play is significant because it shows how hate crimes can really hurt people and show that it’s something that needs to be changed. We are all people, we are all human, we all have the same color blood running through our veins. Love is love. Stand out and speak up.”

The inspiring legacy of Shepard in the unforgettable town of Laramie inspired the students and members involved in the production; enough reason to remember why love conquers all, and change can only happen if we all make a point to do so.

“I’ve learned that it’s true that you can’t change the bad in everyone because we’re all human and we make mistakes, but I’ve realized that change starts with people individually. If I woke up everyday and lived happily towards my surroundings, that’s a change within itself and it’s something that everyone can accomplish,” Hayes said.