LPP at Millenium High School

On May 12th and 13th in Goodyear, AZ, Millennium High School students performed staged readings of The Laramie Project. This production was in memoriam of Tevin Eugene Crosby. The LPP team would love to thank the students of Millennium High School and their Drama teacher, Kim Laguardia, for getting this group together and becoming involved in our international advocacy project. It’s groups like them who remind us how impactful the arts can be in schools. This is our first group from Arizona.
In this blog post below you can find photos from Millennium’s production and a photo of Tevin Eugene Crosby.
Furthermore, be sure to help us further our message of erasing hate, raising awareness, and spreading peace, love, and compassion.
With love,
LPP Team Member Kayla

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Tevin is remembered for his hard work, good attitude, and determination. We hope his spirit is with the LPP Team and the MHS students ❤

 

LPP at Athens High School

Athens High School, our first group from Ohio, performed a reading of The Laramie Project in honor of Miguel Angel Honorato on May 3rd. We’re so proud to say a fellow group of Thespians (Troupe 524!) has become of the network of theatre communities for LGBTQ+ equality. A shout out to Allison Ricket, director of the AHS production–thank you for involving this group of artists-advocates and for putting on such a relevant play.
The LPP is currently seeking two more groups to honor two more victims of the Pulse shooting. We are so close to regaining our status of 49 groups on board. We are always accepting registration at actingout4peaceblog.wordpress.com/starter-kit/
With Love,

LPP Team Leader Alyssa

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Miguel, remembered as a loving and devoted father…we hope to celebrate the beautiful memories you gave your family.

One World Nepal update

Here is an update about the awesome production of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later that runs from May 19 to May 27th. Their cast shared some pictures from their grand dress rehearsal on May 16th that you can view on this Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/OneWorldTheatre/photos/?tab=album&album_id=814856708680261

Here are three excellent trailers for the production. They feature moments from the play and also excerpts from the Nepali LGBTQ+ stories.
Trailer #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Eyl-fXOdXs&feature=youtu.be
Trailer #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y37qviPgus
Trailer #3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFapAL0gx0I

Here are some sentiments from the cast about their experience with the show and about LGBTQ+ culture in Nepal’s society.

Pragyan: 
What’s especially great [about this production] is that we’re incorporating stories from Nepali LGBTIQ people- which gives people outside the community a lens into how life is like for them in a Nepali context.

Achanchha: Heteronormativity is so blindly internalized in our society, that even if someone were to feel differently, they would probably push it aside or made to do so as a passing phase, an imitation, if not coercion. The reason we need to show this play in Nepal…is in order to normalize the idea that being LGBTI is synonymous to being human, and eventually hoping it doesn’t need a separate label.

Justin: My character (Aaron McKinney) brings a perspective that is unfortunately all too common around the world, which is a hatred for gay people. It’s important to learn from these characters what our society is doing wrong. As Father Roger says in the play, “They have to be our teachers. How did you learn? What did we as a society do to teach you that?”

Swastika: The play will not make sudden changes to the whole society but it will have an impact, no matter how small, that needs to be made. Sharing our stories means letting people know that such a community exists. 

Navin: Change cannot happen overnight but I know that the play will give people a chance to understand issues in a holistic way and hopefully question the prejudices they have about the members of the LGBTIQ community.

Bijay: Only after getting into this play did I get to know about Matthew Shephard and the whole movement that followed. In Kathmandu, I have not had many conversations about the LGBTIQ issues in my circle, so doing this play has made me learn a lot about this and made me aware of the kind of concerns that exist and which I previously ignored.

Sandeep: The main perpetrator Aaron McKinney was actually the one who was responsible for the murder but Russell is somebody who merely tags along and somehow does not really stand up to Aaron in order to stop the crime from happening. This really made me understand that had a Russell stood up and told Aaron that what was happening was wrong, perhaps the outcomes of that evening in 1998 would have been drastically different.

Hemanta: This drama is very rich and intense in text and I hope as an actor I can bring these characters to life. It has improved me as an actor…

Shanti: …Playing the role of Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, has been quite something for me. Matthew Shepard was a victim of discrimination and hate and one of the hopes his mother, Judy, has is to make sure that what her son had to go through cannot be repeated again. This is what she fights for and advocates.

This production, co-directed by Bruno Deceukelier and Rajkumar Pudasaini, is bound to be incredible. Here is the program, which includes some more info about the production and some words from Bruno.
Laramie Handout Nepal One World Theater

This production is not only honoring Martin Benitez Torres and those who were victims of gay persecution in Chechen, but they are also honoring Bikram Pariyar. Bikram was a member of the One World production of The Laramie Project a few years ago. He tragically died in an attack. The LPP team sends their love to Bikram’s family and friends, and hopes that the healing power of theatre shines hopeful light on this sad occurrence.

With love,
LPP Team Alyssa

 

“LPP has 49”

The LPP team maintains a group chat and whenever a new group hops on board, I’ll change the chat name to “LPP has #.”

I’ve been waiting months to change it to this.

Reaching our initial goal of 49 groups does NOT mean we are no longer accepting registrations. We are certainly still taking participants, especially because we are in the process of confirming that all our initial participants are still able to follow through. Registration is on the page “Get Started.”

On this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we celebrate months of emails and messages and theatre beauty. As the mama of this project, my heart is so full. My heart is also perpetually longing for more and more! We will certainly be back with more updates.

With much love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa

LPP GCIT National Honors Society Meeting

On May 4th I had the honor of leading a reading completed by my school’s National Honors Society. Seven members representing Gloucester County Institute of Technology gathered in the school theatre to read parts of the play. During this event, we took time to remember Anthony Luis Laureano Disla.

Anthony had a passion for dancing. His family said the talented dancer did not care whatever music was playing–he was up and moving. He was dancing with his friends that fateful night of the shooting.

We wished to honor his love for dancing by reading the play in the theatre, in the midst of show week for our school’s dance concert, hours before the closing show was about to be performed.

It was three of the member’s first time experiencing the play. Sharing Laramie’s story and our team’s mission was one of the dearest moments for me through this process.

Before and after the play, we discussed LGBTQ+ presence and acceptance in society, and where there is still work to be done.

One of my favorite exchanges during the discussion was as follows:

ME: Have you ever seen a theatre production where they made a statement like this?

MARISSA: No.

ME: Gotcha. Do you think theatre is the place for this

ALL: Yes.

All of the participants agreed that there was much work to be done in spaces like schools, but we have improved exponentially even within the last five years. When it comes to forwarding acceptance and compassion, participant Desarae puts it this way: “You can’t force anyone to be accepting, so you have to just do it yourself.” I hope this project we’re cultivating is giving partakers the tools to do it themselves–say the words, tell the stories, and honor the memories in the name of something long-lasting.

I want to thank the participants of this reading, to team member Dylan for helping me out with it. I also want to offer my sincerest hope that Anthony was smiling down on us. I know I will keep dancing through life in honor of those who taught their families to do the same.

With love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa

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Displaying IMG_3032.JPGFrom left to right – Erica, Dylan, Me, Marissa, Rebecca, Desarae, Marian

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LPP at The McCarter Theatre

On May 8th, 2017, the precious life of Deonka Deidra Drayton (or “DeeDee,” as she was affectionately called) was memorialized as a part of a community reading of TLP at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. This theatre is regarded as one of the most culturally active arts centers in the nation. To have the LPP touch down on Princeton U’s campus is my telltale sign that LPP has gone beyond the hearts of the team.

This is not to offend my drama class, who put on our own Laramie last December–but those three hours of performance of TTP’s acclaimed text was the best I’ve heard Laramie. Most of us in the room were first-timers to the story, script, and style. But what’s more perfect for a play in this documentary, aftermath structure than a pair of fresh eyes to read it aloud? The pure unfiltered laughter at Laramie’s wit and the gasps at the heinous crime and responses were not staged.

Historically, those directors and leaders we’ve corresponded with in order to sign their groups onto the LPP are lifetime lovers of Laramie who bring this play to their students/company members with the intention of shining a light on current goings-on. Usually, if you do Laramie once, you’re doing it again within a matter of years. Bringing this story to new audiences is one of the most important things that we can do, as a team who truly believes in the singularity of this play’s brilliance.

Paula Alekson, McCarter Theatre Artistic Engagement Manager, whose enthusiasm for this project still makes me smile, assured us all that this was the first time we were doing any of this, and that this was a reading of a play “of people with compassionate hearts…as a testament to her [DeeDee’s] family of birth, her family of choice…her name and spirit will tragically and yet somehow fittingly be united forever in our hearts, everyone in the circle, in our minds, with the name and spirit of Matthew Shepard and this play The Laramie Project.

The Educational Staff at the McCarter are the embodiment of theatre professionals working with all of their hearts to bring art to the community. What excites me the most is knowing that this was certainly not the first time McCarter representatives Paula Alekson, Lily Junker, and Erica Nagel had touched the hearts of theatregoers. They’re constantly cultivating spaces in the (truthful!) sense that theatre is constitutes of the unlit hours and seeing words for the first time.  

To have met such devoted theatre artists who accepted this project with more than just open arms, but with committed hearts? Honored doesn’t even cover it.

One of the most essential aspects of this project is dedicating time to remember the victims. DeeDee’s life was full of people who loved her extremely. During the time leading up to her untimely death, she was in the midst of a reinvention period, as she confronted some struggles that followed her throughout life. It is terribly upsetting and tragic that DeeDee was beginning to become closer to the things that brought her true happiness when she was murdered.

The LPP Team is aware that we cannot fill in the puzzle pieces that are permanently missing from 49 families’ lives. What we can do is extend the necessary action ensure these memories are not mangled as well. People who likely have little-to-no connection to the victims, previous to their involvement with the LPP, are the very people who are announcing the names of the innocents at their LPP performances. Dear departed who we could not say goodbye to on that horrible June day–you are being remembered in schools and theatres and religious centers, in states and countries outside of your homes. I pray their souls can make new homes in these spaces that have used the power of theatre to memorialize and take action.

A beautiful memorial for DeeDee, something true to the theatre tradition, stood among the participants of the reading, on the McCarter’s Matthews stage. In tandem with the Ghostlight Project, a 2017 initiative that recalls the purpose of the light left onstage on every Monday to protect the theatre, a ghostlight with a picture of DeeDee was lit after the reading. Two candles stood with the picture–one for the memory of Matthew, one for DeeDee.

As I had put it to the Educational Staff…I have hourly daydreams of my favorite aspects of theatre. These include Paula Vogel’s playwriting style, the Philly theatre scene, and all of the possible advocacy initiatives that riddle the productions we put on but are often forgotten in the bustle of ticket sales and press releases. There is a remarkable capacity in making a companion project to fully realize the mission of any theatre pieces–to reverberate in audiences’ minds. Far more than just bringing my dream to life–McCarter has challenged our hearts and voices to never go silent.

The numerical parts of the LPP are phasing out. We’re soon to be exiting a month that has brought three international groups to our team. 8 LPP groups have performed the unparalleled words of the Tectonic Theatre Company Members in the month of May. 5 more names are available to honor alongside productions of TLP. Pride Month returns again, and we keep traveling to Laramie until each victim’s name is vocalized by a community.

What makes TLP as loved as it is this inherent quality. Once you’re exposed to the text, your life and your work is forever changed.

The LPP hopes that audiences enter the theatre as listeners and exit as activists.

With love,
LPP Team Leader Alyssa

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Surreal.

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The Matthews Theatre…my parents as well (thanks for the ride)

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What do you do when you’re at the McCarter? You go to selfie city.

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The Ghostlight, a candle for DeeDee, and a candle for Matthew ❤

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My mom and dad read as well. I happily reprised my role of Leigh, my role model (Go women playwrights!)

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Walking in and seeing this was one of the most incredible moments of this project for me.

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Part of the circle

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The members of the community reading of TLP

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My beloved LPP bracelet and Act III

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DeeDee, your memory is certainly living on in all our hearts!

LPP at Cumberland Regional High School

On May 10th, students at Cumberland Regional High School in NJ performed The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. This specific production by the Drama IV Academy class was in memoriam of Javier Jorge-Reyes. The LPP members would like to thank Mrs. Elisabeth Campbell for getting together these students to join our theatre advocacy project. Support from arts teachers like herself mean the world to us. Through yet another performance of Laramie, we are one step closer in achieving our goal of 49 performances to honor each Pulse victim. Below is a picture of the cast and their set, representing the fence where Matthew’s attack occurred. As always, help us continue to spread peace, love, and compassion.

Check out this nj.com article that covers the Cumberland production as well as the initial inspiration found by project mentor at GCIT Ms. Lynch-Walsh and LPP Team Leader Alyssa Sileo. http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2017/05/how_a_nj_teacher_is_inspiring_theaters_across_the.html

With love,
LPP Team Member Taylor

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Cast Members

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Javier was remembered as someone with “a caring heart.” May you rest in peace, Javier.