9/2 – This week in the LPP – Happy Birthday to the LPP Team, LPP Pins Shop, Help our Texan Friends, and more

LPP Milestones:
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Top: 9/2/16, Bottom: 9/4/16

On August 31st, 2016, I pulled one of my best friends and first member of the LPP Team, Dylan, into one of the alcoves of lockers in our Drama Classroom during one of the quiet moments of our Thespian Board meeting. My drama teacher had just suggested to me that, in tandem with our own Laramie, that we united 49 productions in honor of the 49 Pulse victims. Somehow in my spilling out with this news, I stumbled upon the name The Laramie Project Project. Then, I declared: “I want Bowe and Bagby.”

One year ago today, on a ride back from a day at the shore with my best friend Julia, Dylan and I created a group chat with Kelly and Kayla. We asked them to come on board with our newfound initiative. Pretty sure the first text we got back was Kayla’s YES, and then Kelly’s Woah. I really wish I saved that chat or sceenshotted it.

That night, we hopped on Skype with Kayla, and immediately started a draft of a play about our own cyber travels, as if we could predict what they would bring. Two nights later, we Skyped Kelly and made a list of counties in New Jersey.

To the OG LPP Team–you were the first people in our lives to know about LPP, and the first to say yes.

All of our thanks to the 48 groups that have since signed on with our initiative, keeping the LPP alive, allowing us to arrive at this first birthday milestone.

LPP Local:
Soon, ANYONE can purchase an LPP pin! We are setting up an Etsy shop to sell them for a low price that will be determined soon. Updates about the shop will be coming soon.
If you get a pin, we want your pictures of #LPPAroundTheWorld! Tweet them and tag @theLPP2017, or post them on Instagram and tag @thelaramieprojectproject.

LPP USA:

We highly encourage all of our friends of the LPP to make a donation to help our Texan friends! Here is a link to an LGBTQ+ shelter in Houston, the Montrose Center.

Phase 2:
It’s our goal to be as open as possible with our LPP friends about the future of our initiative. At this point in time, it is looking like it will take one more month to launch Phase 2 of the LPP, as we close up the Pulse Memory Project.
Registration is ALWAYS open for any performance/reading at ANY time at this link.

PP Blog:
Be sure to keep checking the LPP Calendar of events to see if there are any LPP events near you! https://actingout4peaceblog.wordpress.com/calendar-of-events/

Much love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa Sileo

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8/25 – This week in the LPP

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LPP Global:

Yesterday was Marsha P. Johnson’s birthday, the mother of the modern LGBTQ+ movement. Our community owes so much to this trailblazing transgender woman. We will always remember you, Marsha, and we use our advocacy to thank you.
For more info about Marsha: https://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2017/8/24/power-people-exploring-marsha-p-johnsons-queer-liberation

LPP Blog:
Check out our new additions to the site: a page for memorial of the Pulse victims, more links and info on our Suggested Donations Page, moving the survey to the main top bar, and this exciting creation: the calendar of events! Now you can see what local LPP events are near you! https://actingout4peaceblog.wordpress.com/calendar-of-events/

LPP Online:
Check out this new piece by Alyssa Sileo, featured on HowlRound, about the journey of the LPP! http://howlround.com/the-laramie-project-project-uniting-worldwide-stages-to-spread-awareness-of-hate-crimes
Working with HowlRound has been a dream of Lyssi’s, so this is surreal!

LPP Team:
The LPP team is thrilled to announce that we have been able to connect with the Tectonic Theater Project. Our project is unaffiliated with the Tectonic Theater Project, but has the company’s spirited support, which means the world to the team members. TTP graciously shared our HowlRound article on their social media pages. We’re extremely thankful to connect with the people who created the beautiful play that started this all and has inspired lives all over the world.

The LPP Team accepts registration at all time at this page. https://actingout4peaceblog.wordpress.com/starter-kit/
While we are very much under construction, we hope to roll out more info about our new phases very soon.

Much love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa and LPP Team Member Kayla

LPP at Susquehanna Township HS

Last week, 7/29 and 7/30, LPPers at Susquehanna Township High School’s School of Theatre Arts  (Harrisburg, PA) performed The Laramie Project Project as a part of The Laramie Project Project. We are so excited that they joined us in erasing hate and sharing Matthew’s story. Check out photos from their production below!

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Did you know? Susquehanna was our first outside performance of LPP! Additionally, they were our second Pennsylvania group on board.

With love,

LPP team member Kelly

7/19: This Week in the LPP

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LGBTQ+ Global: 
The Church of England has recently strode two pivotal steps forward in the direction of a more accepting faith community for LGBTQ citizens. Two motions proposed by The General Synod have yielded positive results, one of which in favor of abolishing gay conversion therapy (a vote of 298 to 74) , the other in favor of affirming Trans Christians as true members of the church (284 to 78). These two events will undoubtedly create a more accepting environment for LGBTQ parishoners, promoting God’s love in an honest and unbiased fashion, while also setting a noble example for other churches to follow. As the kids say nowadays…England, you’re doing great sweetie.

MSF:
Here’s another beautiful example of #HonoringThemWithAction: Considering Matthew Shepard, and oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson and performed by Conspirare singers hailing from Texas.

LPP Local:
Check out two blogs this week about two Jersey LPP readings–past and present. Troupe 7161 at Robbinsville High School carried the LPP banner last winter, infusing The Laramie Project into the classroom.

PFLAG Collingswood along with The Social Responsibility Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cherry Hill will host a reading this October. We encourage all of our Jersey hearts to attend for an epic LPP reunion.

LPP Blog:
A note about the updates on our Groups on Board page: while the LPP Pulse Memory Project does not have 49 names on the blog, our team is in conversation with about eight groups at the moment. We can assure the last three names on our list will be honored by specific theatre groups within the year.

Due to logistical reasons and event planning, these three singular names are reserved for three of these prospective groups.

Therefore we’ve assigned our first two group dedications to Glencoe High School (OR, honoring the families of the victims) and Camden County Technical School (NJ, honoring the wounded and survivors of the shooting.)

We added some stats to page about the geography of the LPP…it’s remarkable to list all of these state abbreviations. Onward, upward, forward and outward!

LPP Team:
LPP Team Leader Alyssa received this Matthew Shepard Foundation Summer Newsletter and opened it up to find…her sophomore year headshot. Okay, things are getting real now! Don’t let the first face fool you…she’s out of her mind pumped.


As we approach 49, more is still in store for the LPP. Stay tuned.

With love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa and Team Member Dylan

LPP presented by PFLAG Collingswood and the Social Responsibility Committee of The Unitarian Universalist Church (NJ)

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Note, this post will experience updates within the week!

Our first PFLAG to sign onto our Project, hailing from Collingswood, NJ, is holding an LPP event this fall. PFLAG (acronym used for the historical name Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is a national organization that unites LGBTQ+ community members, family, and friends, who offer support and advocacy initiatives for their hometowns. There are currently more than 400 chapters and 200,000 members!

It’s been a pleasure working with PFLAG Collingswood Vice President Jim DeSimone as we’ve signed on this local organization to our mission. Their chapter will be partnering with the Social Responsibility Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill, NJ. The event is free and open to the public, held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill on October 15, 2017 from 6-9pm.

This autumn, PFLAG will be honoring Luis Daniel Conde. Luis owned a hair and beauty salon in Kissimmee with his partner Juan Pablo Rivera Velasquez (who also died in the shooting, and was recently honored by Two River Theatre in Red Bank, NJ.) The Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine Salon was locally renowned for the beautifully fun and positive times, as customers sometimes visited just to say hi to Juan and Daniel.

I wish I could attend to PFLAG event, but I will be in Colorado that night, as the Bear To Make A Difference Gala for the Matthew Shepard Foundation is that weekend. I encourage any LPP locals to attend this event and see the LPP in action, as well as supporting two incredible regional groups!

We are so excited to welcome aboard organizations that fight daily for acceptance in local communities! We are also so proud of having a PFLAG of our own state join us, and our second religious organization sign on. It’s so beautiful to see LGBTQ+ advocacy with roots close to home. Collingswood is a town I visit so many times a year, as one of my best friends lives there, and Cherry Hill is not that far from me at all either!

For more information about The PFLAG organization, visit their site at https://www.pflag.org/

PFLAG Collingswood’s own page is at this link: https://www.pflag.org/chapter/pflag-collingswood

And here is their Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/collingswood.pflag/

Much love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa

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Luis (left) and Juan (right)…both together in Heaven.

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We miss your beautiful heart, Luis!

LPP at Robbinsville High School (Troupe 7161)

During International Thespian Festival, I was able to catch up with troupe members from Robbinsville High School Troupe 7161, fellow New Jerseyans. Robbinsville’s Theatre II and III Classes participated in the LPP, and they were one of the first to sign on to our initiative back before the new year. I hadn’t been able to catch up with the students or their troupe director and teacher, Miss Sussman, until ITF, so I pulled a Tectonic Move and opened up the recording app and conducted a small interview.  I learned about their classroom LPP events in honor of Juan Chavez-Martinez.

 

The students read the play as a class before they embarked on monologue study. I asked them all what their first thoughts on the play were. Student Sarah initially found it very sad, but grew to appreciate the Tectonic Theatre Company Member’s care to include all different kinds of opinions in the text. (That’s one of the characteristics I personally believes makes this play superior. The good, the bad, and the ugly are showcased, which is the most true representation of any American town.) At first, Student Mark was “frustrated and angry” with the intolerance certain characters showed, but then appreciated the challenge of seeing both sides of the spectrum.This is what truly makes the play about acceptance and understanding.

Another student (I failed to grab their name, and will edit in their name once I hear from the troupe who remembers saying this) remarked, referring to the hate crime that took Matthew’s life, “It’s just hard to believe that stuff like this actually happens.” This is a comment I hear when talking to almost everyone about Laramie–the heartbreaking event still shocks and saddens those who read/hear about it. It’s oftentimes boggling to comprehend the hate that it takes to hurt others for their identity, beliefs, and affiliations.

I also asked the students where they were when they first heard about Pulse. Student Kaeleigh remembered that she was in school, right before the start of summer vacation. Another student heard at home. I told them to story about how I was at the Philly Pride Parade that day, and I had heard in bits and pieces on the train ride over. I brought up how sad it was that safe spaces are in question for the community. Miss Sussman added that “there’s no such thing as 100% anymore for anyone,” with increasing violent incidents all over the world. She said an incredible thing afterwards– “So, we can live our lives in fear, or we can choose to embrace love instead of hate…And teach those messages.”

That’s why our team believes in Laramie so much–it takes one of the most beautiful human creations, theatre, and employs it for the spreading of education and hope.

I positively adore the in-class infusion of the LPP–theatre education is near and dear to my heart, so I’m always happen to sign on schools and students to our cause. Some of the best monologues from the modern play catalogue are from Laramie (I’ve been known to whip out Romaine’s Angle Action monologue as needed.)

Juan Chavez Martinez, as mentioned in an online obituary, was originally from Mexico, only 25 years old when he was murdered in the shooting. Even though he was so young, he was a successful and hard-working boss in a department of a Floridian hotel. He had several brothers and sisters.

The LPP Team wishes with all of our hearts Juan’s family and colleagues could find some comfort in knowing he is loved all the way in New Jersey. We’re so grateful the Thespians of Robbinsville honored his memory in the classroom–employing him and Matthew’s stories in the name of love, education, and acceptance.

Thank you to Robbinsville Thespian Troupe Members for speaking with me, and thanks to Team Member Kelly for transcribing the interview!

With love,
LPP TL Alyssa

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Goofy thespians of Robbinsville… @ NJ ThesFest17

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Juan, may you rest in peace! ❤

LPP at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ in honor of Juan P. Rivera Velazquez

June 13th, 2017 marked one year and one day since the tragic Pulse Nightclub shooting. The LPP international team did not let this time of year go unnoticed. May and June were two of the busiest month for international LPP readings. Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, a gorgeous, regional theatre company with a dedicated educational program, held an incredibly special LPP event that created a beautiful camaraderie between the participants. Their staged reading was in honor of Juan P. Rivera Velazquez.


I was at a show that night with my pop-pop (the regional premiere of Fun Home in Philadelphia, featuring my idol AEA President Kate Shindle), but Honorary LPP Team Member Liam luckily was able to attend. Liam is a GCIT School of Performing Arts 2016 alumni, and a dear friend of mine who I’ve dubbed LPP Media Correspondent. He’s working on a story about the LPP for ha new blog, so I sent him to this event to represent the LPP team. At the event, Liam had the pleasure of meeting the fabulous Kate Cordaro, Director of Education at Two River, who has been passionately planning this LPP event for months.

Here’s what Liam has relayed about the event. Time for me to be a Tectonic Theatre Company member and do some transcription work.

“So when I got there, all the chairs were set up in a circle. There was a box of plays and on each copy, a list of characters that script holder would read for. Kate mixed them all up so kids would be adults, boyts would be girls, etc., so that we go a full circular experience of different people and their character. I ended up reading as well, though I didn’t plan to (I read for four other minor characters and Doc).”

I’m so happy to hear about the truly authentic reading experience the participants at Two River had. It’s my belief that Laramie is supposed to be carried out in a truly communal and ragtag-team kind of way. The voices of Laramie should shine through the performance, and these sentiments should be communicated in such a multitude of ages and perspectives. At the McCarter Theatre reading, an older lady read the part of Doc O’Connor, a rough-and-tough limousine driver–and to be truthful, that night was the best I had heard Doc.

“At intermission we took a break, everything was so heavy. So at the end, a man was reading for Matthew’s dad, and started holding back tears. It was the ‘Matthew wasn’t alone’ part. There was not a dry eye in the spot.
Than at the end of the play, we all sat in silence for a minute.
And tok 3 collective breaths in and out as a group, like we did at the beginning.

And then we sat in silence and this man broke the silence. He started reciting a poem…We all just listened to him. It was so so powerful.
And then we all started breaking away. The group was so varied. Kate said she knew only half of them. It was incredible, a fantastic experience.”

While my heart is so happy with the LPP’s reach across the state, country, and world, I so wish that I could attend every event. My pride for Jersey theatres is shining ever bright, especially with a group as astounding as Two River joining us. I’m continually inspired by the directors of education at our LPP playhouses–thank you for spearheading this effort and bringing LPP to your communities.

Two River celebrated the life of a remarkable man who ran a hair salon with his partner Luis Daniel Conde. (Luis will be honored by Collingswood PFLAG this October.) Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine in Kissimmee was a place for laughs and smiles. Sometimes friends came just to pay a visit to Luis and Juan, not for a hair appointment.

Something I learned about Juan and Luis that struck me the most was reading about how, at their salon, they would offer free services to women who were victims of domestic violence. Alta Salon must have been such a safe haven for so many people.

I mourn the loss of these beautiful souls, and I celebrate the action taken by members of the Red Bank community.

Thank you so much to another loving group of Jersey artists, and thank you to Liam for covering this event.

With love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa

Note: more pictures will be added to this blog as I acquire them!

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This gorgeous edit…

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Lifelong connections made in circles like these.
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Juan, we miss you and your big heart, but your love lives on!

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Luis and Daniel ❤