On November 14th, 1998 the members of the Tectonic Theater Project travelled to Laramie, Wyoming to conduct interviews with the members of the town. On January 14th, 2017, the first production of the Laramie Project Project was put on at the New Jersey Thespian Festival in Robbinsville High School by Hoboken High School (Troupe 7268). The house lights dimmed. Company member Brandon Lyons stepped forward and stated “Today’s performance is dedicated to Darryl Roman Burt II.” What followed was a magnetic performance showcased in a black box style with striking portrayals of the citizens of Laramie. An especially exceptional performance was at the discretion of the despicable Aaron McKinney (Brandon Lyons) whose scowl sent shivers down my spine, and Judy Shepherd (Rebecca Weintraub) whose monologue moved me and drove me to tears. Directed under Danielle Miller, the various tableaus–including the residents of Laramie watching both the medical update and Judy Shepherd’s statement–as well as the constant, synchronized shifts in between monologues, illustrated beautifully the connection of members in a small town in the wake of a tragedy. Astonishing.
It was evident that this company was firmly grounded in the story of Laramie, as our follow-up interview with their cast echoed the words of Laramie citizens circa 1998. When prompted with a question regarding the safety schools assure to queer students, and whether or not it is a safe space, company member Hannah Mack (Rebecca Hilliker) reaffirmed that she believes their school is “very openly gay…We have a really good community with that. I don’t think we have much prejudice about that in our school.”
I know a lot of teachers in other schools that say that their schools aren’t that way,” said Director Danielle Miller, “but I feel like our school is pretty like ‘live and let live.’”
To the cast and crew of Hoboken High School’s production of Laramie: Way to go. Darryl Roman Burt II, this one’s for you.
1 down, 48 to go. I’m immensely proud.
LPP Team Member Dylan Glick