My respect and passion for the Laramie Project continues to grow. This piece has made a drastic change for the artists of the Duke Ellington Theatre. We would like to attack society with this one story, in hope to change the lives of many. The term homosexuality has been seen as something sinful and dreadful in many states, not just Laramie, Wyo. As an aspiring actress and a member of the Duke Ellington Theatre Company it is my job to tell the story of Mathew Shepard. Mathew Shepard was a 21-year-old man from Laramie who was brutally beaten to death due to his unconventional sexual preference. I find this ironic recalling that America is “the land of the free.” Although there are several characters that must be portrayed, no character is more important than the other. What happened to Mathew Shepard is not just another sad story in the paper; it is a political event that creates a downfall, not just on Laramie, but on the media and society as a whole. This production will definitely not be just another flashy and glamorous piece of entertainment. It will be a production filled with life, honesty and purpose. From now until April 8, the date of our final performance, I devote my life to the incident that took place in Laramie. I hope to reach today’s youth and to put something in their hearts that will make them not just change their lives but also change society and prevent it from damaging the ours and the next generation.
<b>— Brittany Sullivan</b>
The Laramie Project has been a long, strenuous process. As the play deepens, our understanding of human nature broadens, as we explore the way in which human beings react towards another, simply because of the differences that we all share. As a company, the assessment of our own personal prejudices was the most essential preparation, in order for us to dive into the characters and the text for a realistic depiction of the unspoken biases that every single human being has fallen victim. The process has been both emotional and spiritual, purely because of the level of honesty that each member of the ensemble had to reveal to, not only the other cast members, but to themselves. One of the primary obstacles that we had to overcome was the biases that we are unable to share with even ourselves, which in essence is the trigger of most hate crimes. The barbarity in which one man can act towards another man is an ongoing problem and in a lot of cases, it is the fear of the unknown that contributes to the hate that lives in the souls of the closed minded. So, in essence our efforts are to raise awareness, for those who have never been exposed to other lifestyles that are commonly shunned by the society that we live in. No one person is alike and each human being has been made as contrast to another, so instead of out casting people who don’t fit the expectations of our own subconscious, we should embrace the differences that we all share as the human race.
<b>— Zaibaa Mahdi</b>
Being in The Laramie Project is a great honor for me. Over the course of my career, I have participated in many plays and musicals with the sole purpose of entertainment. This project is unlike anything I have ever done. The Laramie Project is more than just a play; it is a lesson in acceptance. Through this play, I feel that I am helping mold society. I thought I understood what a hate crime entailed and how disgusting one is. I now know how ignorant I have been. I was given an assignment to find photographs that explain what a hate crime is. After viewing these photographs, I was moved to my core. My eyes were opened to the extremes that individuals are willing to go to because of hate. I asked myself, why I should subject others to this pain I was feeling. I would have rather people stayed blind than be forced to the realization I had made. Later, after some deliberation, it struck me. People need to hear these stories and see these photographs in order to fix this problem. All of us have biases and are capable of committing these crimes. Every person has a bit of McKinney and Henderson in his/herself. Every town is a Laramie, a Waco, or a Jasper. It is an individual’s duty to try to break through these biases, to show not just tolerance but acceptance. I believe The Laramie Project accomplishes these tasks. It is my commitment as an artist to try to improve life for this and following generations. I am honored to change society and myself through this amazing piece of work.
<b>— Rebecca Hollingsworth</b>