Theatre that evolved out of a real hate crime and changed laws is coming to The Central Coast.
In 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming a young university student, Matthew Shepard (left) was brutally beaten and murdered due to his sexuality. Four weeks after the hate crime occurred, Tectonic Theater Project in America went to the town of Laramie to explore the community’s response to the murder. After conducting over two hundred interviews, recording personal journals and returning to the town several times over eighteen months, the process resulted in The Laramie Project Play.
Facilitator and director of the project, Jessica Alex has had a long standing passion for social theatre for empowerment where she has developed community arts projects in Cambodia.
‘I first came across The Laramie Project through my studies at the University of Newcastle where I was inspired by the impact that theatre could have on an international scale,’ said Jessica.
To this day, The Laramie Project is one of the most performed plays in America and the second play The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later played an instrumental role in the passing of the ‘The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009’.
‘This play is not just about a young man who was murdered due to his sexuality,’ says Jessica. ‘It offers us an opportunity to consider similarities and differences between ourselves and our community against what happened in Laramie.’
To this effect, Jessica, as part of a Woy Woy Little Theatre FLASH Community Arts Project, has organized a series of community events to foster dialogue, community capacity and growth.
Beginning with an information session on Wednesday 2nd November 7:30pm at the Peninsula Theatre, interested community members are invited to hear more about the project and opportunities for involvement.
Jessica will also be facilitating a public reading of The Laramie Project on Friday 18th November at the Peninsula Theatre to provide people with a stronger context of the production.
Furthermore, a full day workshop will also be held on Sunday 20th November from 9:30am-3:30pm in a theatrical devising technique used in The Laramie Project known as Moment Work.
‘Moment Work is a technique that allows participants to create and analyse theatre through its various devices and create meaning. For this workshop participants will first focus on creating their own moments exploring the meaning of “community”. In the second part of the workshop participants will be working with specific Moments from The Laramie Project text.’
Participants will be able to use the second part of the workshop as their audition however this is not necessary for participation. Auditions will also be held on Wednesday 23rd November at 7pm.
As part of the scheduled performances from February 10th-12th in 2017, a specific high school performance will be scheduled on February 10th as it is currently on the HSC drama curriculum as part of the ‘significant plays of the 21st century’. Following the schools performance and the final performance a Q&A session will also be held.
‘I felt it was really important to enable the community to participate in a discussion regarding the performance and its themes. My hope is that audience members, community leaders and organisations will come together and create a stronger Central Coast community.’
For more information and to get involved go on the Flash Community Arts Project, go to the project Facebook page The Laramie Project at WWLT.