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'The Laramie Project'

The students jumped on stage to prepare for rehearsal with warm-ups. They made obnoxious noises, repeated nonsense sentences and flung their bodies about, filling the auditorium with laughter and energy.

The students jumped on stage to prepare for rehearsal with warm-ups. They made obnoxious noises, repeated nonsense sentences and flung their bodies about, filling the auditorium with laughter and energy.
An hour and a half later, however, the mood took a melancholy turn. Some students walked off the stage in tears.
Central High School theater students will present the thought-provoking play "The Laramie Project" on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. An in-school performance will be staged Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
"The Laramie Project," by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project, is a narrative documentary based on 200 interviews given by the townspeople of Laramie, Wyo., following the death of Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die tied to a buck fence because he was gay.
The play does not re-enact the crime. And although his presence is larger than life, Shepard isn't even a character. Rather, the play is about hope, hate, fear and courage straight from the mouths of Laramie's residents.
Liz Larson, director, cut the script into a one-act play and chose it for a few reasons. The play coincides with Diversity Week at Central, it's a good, dramatic piece, and "hate is a bad thing," she said. Larson also said the play is good for Central because of its diverse student population.
"I find kids much more open and accepting about new ideas, because this is the process of learning. They are in the process of learning socialization," Larson said. "Teen-agers don't really have any rights. {IMG2}They can identify with stuff better than we can. I think they're pretty sympathetic and concerned with the world they're growing up in."
The students play three to five characters each. This isn't the first time Central students have played multiple characters, but it is the first time they have portrayed real people.
"It's definitely a challenge, and it's very important that you make that transition from character to character clear," said theater student Val Mudele. "The message of this play, which is non-hatred, is so important."
"Just to do justice for the people in the play is a really big thing," said Delon Grant.
"This play deals with very powerful ideas," said Darren Hall. "You have to put yourself in that mind-set right away."
Kyle Youngblom said another challenge is to portray the townspeople as real people rather than turn them into caricatures.
The play makes Shepard's death real to the students as well. "For me, Matthew Shepard died again," said Mallory Saurer, narrator of the play. "The whole thing is about hate and how hate is wrong. It's not about sexuality."
Perhaps the most moving moment of the play is at the end, when theater student Darren Hall performs a song he composed called "Goodbye Laramie." It's during this song that Shepard's death sinks in.
In the song Hall sings, "Don't cry Matthew, you did not die alone."
News to Use
What: "The Laramie Project"
When: Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m..
Where: Central High School Auditorium.
Tickets: $5 general admission.
For more information, call 733-2130, ext. 321.

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