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Laramie Project

  • 1.  Laramie Project

    Posted 05-10-2019 11:20

    Who has directed The Laramie Project at the high school level?
    Did you make any cuts? (with permission of course)

    Need to make a case to be the first to direct it in my county.  Anyone from the state of Maryland would be really helpful.


    Marla Blasko
    Director/Teacher Theatre Arts
    Long Reach High School
    Columbia, Maryland

  • 2.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-11-2019 11:04

    I have directed The Laramie Project twice. The show was well received both times. I invited the Tectonic Theater Company to come and do moment work with my students before we started rehearsal and had a member of the company come to the first show to participate in a talk back with the audience. If you can, I highly recommend bringing the company members in to your rehearsal process.  
    I am happy to talk to you about this in more detail off of the forum. 
    Maura Vaughn
    Director of Theatre
    39 Fernhill
    Ross, CA 95957

  • 3.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-11-2019 11:10
    I've directed Laramie twice, first in 2004 and again in 2015. Both times it was just as relevant and powerful for both cast and audience. We did not make any cuts, and we spent a great deal of time visiting every English class to discuss the topic, provide background, and explain the importance of this show. We had warnings about explicit language and material on all of our posters and in our video announcements. At the 2004 show, we received a letter from people heading up the Westboro Baptist Church saying they would have protesters at the theater - that never happened.

    I can't express enough the value of bringing this piece of theatre to the school level. The focus for us in 2004 was tolerance and in 2015 the whole dynamic had changed to acceptance - it is no longer good enough to be tolerant. The Tectonic Theater Project will be incredibly helpful in your production, so use them. I hope your prinicipal supports your choice. Break a leg!

    Nancy Moran
    Performing Arts Department Coordinator
    Los Altos High School

    Nancy Moran
    Drama Instructor
    Los Altos High School
    San Jose CA

  • 4.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-12-2019 13:46
    We also have produced The Laramie Project twice. The first time, we were the first production on Staten Island. We made no cuts and also brought in Members of the Tectonic Theater Company to work with the students. Both times, our community responded most favorably.

    The reason for our second production involved a spurt of hate crimes on the Island, including a gay couple who were attacked and beaten outside of a White Castle. The couple actually came to our production, sought me out and asked if they could speak to the cast after the show. We all gathered backstage and they shared their story with the kids and told them how Important plays like Laramie are for audiences to see. All of my students were in tears. It was a profound moment for me as an educator.

    I would recommend doing the play as it is written. In these strange and divisive times, it can prove an important moment for your community.

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 5.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-14-2019 13:12
    I directed Laramie Project in 2003 after being asked by the administration if we could do something to help counter the rampant homophobic culture at our school.  I did cut all the F***'s and one scene before I gave the script to the students (with permission).  Westboro also threatened us. . .and the house was packed opening night, including three administrators.   In the heat of the moment, one of the defendants in the trial scene shouted, "I wasn't going to let no F*****g fag touch me!"  Everyone on stage froze for a second and then finished the scene.  The shaken actor dissolved into tears backstage sure he had caused the show to be canceled.  After the curtain, when the principal asked everyone to come on stage, I was afraid he might have been right.  Instead, she praised everyone for their outstanding job and how well they had handled such an important topic!  I have never been prouder!!  We later took a 30 minutes cutting (approved by Tectonic, who are a pleasure to deal with) to State Festival.  It was one of the highlights of my teaching career!

    Marilynn Zeljeznjak
    Blacksburg VA

  • 6.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-11-2019 12:03

        I am not in Maryland, but I in DC.  Contact Duke Ellington.  As a performing arts school, you would expect for them to live on the edge. Call them and see if they faced any push back. I directed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers this season.  We live in a time where everything is questioned and scrutinized.  However, we are living in a time when art can bring attention, another POV, and more to thoughts, issues, and concerns of the world.

    I love the LP.  Let me know when it goes up.  I will gladly take the drive.

    Neptune Pringle III
    Director of Performing Arts
    Georgetown Visitation 
    Washington, DC
    Neptune Pringle III
    Director of Performing Arts
    Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School
    1524 35th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20007

    2018-2019 Performance Season

    "The Ghost of Rhodes Manor"
    November 16-18, 2018

    Christmas Concert
    December 20, 2018

    "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"
    April 5-7, 2019

    Dance Ensemble Concert
    April 17, 2019

    Spring Concert
    May 2, 2019

    To support Visi Arts and for more information visit

  • 7.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-13-2019 10:41
    We did The Laramie Project in 2017-2018 for our Thespian Competition Show. We did make cuts to fit into the 45-minute time limit (we didn't just do one act....I pulled scenes in order from the beginning, middle, & end in order to tell the whole story). We also cut the f-word to please administration. I got permission to make these cuts from both Tectonic Theatre Project & from DPS.

    I echo the suggestion of reaching out to the Tectonic Theatre Project but also use The Matthew Shepard Foundation. Check them out now...they've got letter templates to admin &/or parents, I believe, to explain the importance of doing this show. We were able to Skype with the Executive Director at the MSF, and that was an awesome experience for the kids. They also have many helpful resources. We were even able to collect money after our shows to make a donation to the foundation at the conclusion of our production.

    I also brought back one of my former students who was in high school during this tragedy so that he could talk to the cast about how different it was back then vs. now. There was so little acceptance and tolerance for him then, and I thought that was important for the kids to understand firsthand from someone who experienced such hate vs. just me telling them "it was so different back then."

    This is a powerful script for the cast & audience. I highly recommend a talk back after the shows. We did this during our study hall performances & had guidance counselors lead this discussion. It was a learning situation for all involved.

    Break legs!

    Susan Nieten
    Theatre Teacher & Thespian Troupe Director
    Noblesville High School
    Noblesville, IN
    @NHSTheatre @mrsnieten

  • 8.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-13-2019 11:13
    Hi all,
    I also did Laramie Project about 5 years ago. Let me preface this by saying that we are a Catholic school. After 2 years of conversations to make Laramie a reality, we performed to very supportive audiences. We did not cut out anything. We had many conversations with the cast and crew and faculty about the performance. We found that by involving the community in authentic ways, it wallowed for their to be a general sense of acceptance.

    We, too, spoke with the Matthew Shepard Foundation and partnered with Techtonic. We had a great skype conversations with Andy Paris. The kids asked incredible questions and gained much insight (especially the student playing Andy in our production). Via Techtonic, we also partnered with another Catholic High school in California who was doing Laramie about the same time as us. Our blog is still on their page in case you are interested.

    In addition to the above, we invited Judy Sheppard to the table to hear her story. She spoke with the student body during an assembly. After that, she connected with the cast about her story and the characters in the play. This was then followed by a presentation that evening for the community. I had an alum of the school sponsor this event. I would also add, that we are an all boys school just outside of Philadelphia. We had many alums come back just because we did the show and had Judy present. Some remarked that they finally felt accepted.

    At the same time we were doing Laramie there was a gay couple brutally beat up walking home one night in Philadelphia. The students and I spent the next 2 rehearsals talking about this experience. What I found so meaningful throughout this process was the seriousness and respect that the students had while journeying through this production. Students began discussing the themes with their parents at the dinner table. One parent shared that she had been trying to have conversations about life and respecting others for awhile. It wasn't until Laramie that the conversations became a reality.

    We, too, received news that Westboro would be protesting, but no one showed up to the school. About 2 months after the production, we received a call from an anonymous person trying to correct the reasoning of Matthew's death. He said that it was a drug deal that went wrong. A colleague also received a similar call.

    At the end of the day, our small, Catholic, all boys, conservative community performed Laramie and led the community in some real world conversations. For me, it is a highlight of my theatre career.

    I would be glad to speak more about this in case you are interested.
    Good luck with the production. Its an awesome, and emotional, ride.

    James Fry
    Director of Student Life and the Malvern Theatre Society
    Malvern, PA

  • 9.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-14-2019 12:05
    I want to thank all of you for responding and sharing your stories about The Laramie Project.  My principal just gave it the green light!!!  I spent most of Mother's Day writing a five page email about why it needs to be performed at the high school level and your directing experiences gave me the courage to advocate for it.  I will be taking your advice and contacting the Techtonic Theatre.  A thousand times thank you - can't wait to begin this work!!!!!

    Marla Blasko
    Director/Teacher Theatre Arts
    Long Reach High School
    Columbia, Maryland

  • 10.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-14-2019 14:48
      |   view attached
    Hello, all: I'm a retired high school English teacher, now working for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Among other things, I provide support for productions of The Laramie Project. We have an extensive set of digitized resources available to share via Dropbox-including a booklet, "Advocating for Laramie Project at Your School." If you're considering LP, we're very happy to help!

    Marla: There have been half a dozen private and public school productions of LP in Maryland in the last couple of school years, as well as two college productions; I'd be happy to facilitate introductions. Upcoming, there's a high school production this month in Silver Spring, and Hard Bargain Players have a run in June.

    Louis Sisneros
    Legacy Project Coordinator, Matthew Shepard Foundation


  • 11.  RE: Laramie Project

    Posted 05-15-2019 08:43
    I don't think it's been mentioned here yet, but there is also a sequel to the Laramie Project called The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. Like it sounds, the Tectonic Theatre Project returned to Laramie 10 years later to see how the town (and the world) has responded to everything surrounding Matthew. It also includes interviews with both Russel Henderson and Aaron McKinney, Matthew's killers. I did it with high schoolers a few years ago and it went over really well. It's really interesting and might be good for your cast to look at to give some context or a different viewpoint.

    So glad that you got the green light!

    Andrew Walker
    West Palm Beach FL