HBHA Theater to perform ‘The Laramie Project’
- Published: Thursday, 13 April 2017 14:38
- Written by Ayelet Schuster, Special to The Chronicle
On Wednesday, April 26, and Thursday, April 27, upper school students at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) will perform the play “The Laramie Project.” This play has been banned in many high schools all over the world because it contains themes of homophobia, death and bigotry.
“The Laramie Project” depicts the story of how the town of Laramie, Wyoming, dealt with the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, in October of 1998. Having heard of Shepard’s death, members of the Tectonic Theater Project in New York went to Laramie to interview those who knew Shepard to find out more about his life and murder. The play is comprised of those interviews and the trial of the two men who were accused of the crime.
Unlike the lighthearted plays that HBHA’s drama department has performed in the past, “The Laramie Project” touches upon more difficult subject matters. Micah Margolies, the play’s director, chose such a serious play because he wanted a change from the comedies HBHA has performed the past number of years. An English and math teacher in HBHA’s upper school, as well as an HBHA alumni, this is Margolies’ third time directing an HBHA play. As a student, he was in the school’s plays all four years of his upper school career.
“ ‘The Laramie Project’ would be a great play for any school to perform, but I think it is especially meaningful for us. We take great pride in being a school that is open and tolerant to all different kinds of people,” Margolies explained.
Actress Sara Saidel said “The Laramie Project” is a really intense and thought-provoking show.
“I think it’s really important that HBHA is putting it on. It’s banned in a lot of schools, so I think it’s important that our school is letting us tell the really tragic story of Matthew Shepard,” she said.
Director Margolies hopes this play forces its viewers to look inward and ask “if we have crafted a society where what happened to Matthew could still happen. The answer, hopefully, is no.”
“But I think that there is always more that we can do to make our society a more inclusive place, and this play can be one step forward to accomplishing that,” he said.
The message that Margolies hopes this play will send is, “when terrible things happen in our society, it is critical to ask how something so horrible could have occurred ... this play focuses on the entire community —it doesn’t allow anybody to escape from the ripple effect that the murder had on the city.”