Story of a town, not just a crime

By: Carley Milligan, Editor-in-Chief

The members of Towson’s Actors Anonymous theatre troupe brought real and relevant problems to light through their production of “The Laramie Project” May 2 and 3 in the Chesapeake rooms.

“‘The Laramie Project’ is the story of Matthew Sheppard and how he was beaten to death for being a homosexual at the University of Wyoming,” senior and co-founder of Actors Anonymous Amanda Shorr said. “With everything that is going on in the media and society right now, it’s just something that is good to bring attention to.”

Shorr mentioned the recent suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn and said that her death, like Sheppard’s, is a story that should be shared with the community.

“It should be something that is known to everybody because in order for us to create our future, we have to learn from our past,” she said.

The play was especially meaningful to director and junior Timothy Huth, because he felt that he could relate with many of the characters.

“I am a gay man, like the man who was killed, and like a lot of the characters in the play, but I am also an Eagle Scout, like the murderer and the hateful preacher from the beginning of the third act,” he said. “It’s weird to think that those two identities can work together, but also juxtapose each other so well.”

When they first chose to perform “The Laramie Project,” Huth said that it was during the protests that were taking place in Ferguson, Missouri.

Although the play does not directly deal with the concepts of racial inequality or police brutality, it does explore the experiences of individuals living in a community where a national story has taken place.   

“We talk a lot about how events define towns,” Huth said of the play. He mentioned places like Ferguson and Columbine, only known to many as a place of violence rather than a city. 

“All of these places are defined by the action that happened in them, and how do you live in a town like that where the world sees you as ‘this event’ but you are not just that event,” Huth said. “Yes, Laramie is a town where a hate crime happened, but it is so much more than that and there is so much more happening there.”

President and co-founder of Actors Anonymous Anne Rubin said that they wanted to give students the opportunity to see a real-life story and bring to light an issue that they hoped to spread around campus.

“We saw the opportunity to have a show that talks about an important issue,” Rubin said. “Because we have done comedies and we have done musicals, but we wanted to have this semester something we haven’t done before, which would be a drama.”

The play itself is comprised of interviews and found text quoted directly from those individuals immediately involved in the real life situation. Huth said that because of this, he felt that the words were the most important part of the play to convey to audience members. 

“We really focused on the fact that these are words that real people said, these are interviews with real people, these are news reports and speeches that people gave,” he said. “It’s the words I wanted to get across and I know they [the actors] do a good job of emoting without having to be seen. I was really proud of them for that.”

For Huth, what really gave the performance life was the relevance of the play in concurrence with the events that took place in Baltimore the past week.

“Those events made this play come together because you can never really understand it until you are living it and we are living it right now,” he said. “It always surprises me how relevant theater is.”

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