THE LARAMIE PROJECT
Written by Moisés Kaufman and Members of the Tectonic Theater Project
Directed by John Geddie
Produced by Kathy Bleutge
Friday and Saturday, June 11 & 12 at 7:30PM Franklin Park Arts Center, Purcellville, VA
Friday & Saturday June 18, 19, 25, 26 at 7:30PM at Sterling Middle School, 201 W. Holly Ave. Sterling, VA
Tickets are $15 General Admission
Recommended for Mature Audiences only due to subject matter & language.
Note: Masks are required for all audience members
The extraordinarily moving portrayal of the people of Laramie, Wyoming in the wake of the “hate crime” murder of Matthew Shepherd, is brought to life on stage with wrenching emotion. The town’s deeply personal and complex reactions are revealed in the immediate aftermath of the heinous and shocking crime… and revisited 10 years later with the tragic revelation that many memories of the murder’s shocking motivations have shifted from hate and intolerance to greed.
IS THIS ANOTHER ZOOM PRODUCTION? WHAT ABOUT COVID?
Nope, this will be a live/in-person theater project – in a theatre with an audience.
This will be the first live production staged by the Playmakers in over a year since the advent of Covid and hopefully the first step in the slow return to normalcy. The Laramie Project is a transitional project to prepare us for full reopening. It is a smaller cast production with minimal set and technical requirements. Most of the moments involved in the show require only a few people on stage and the strength of the show stems from the performances and the story.
Covid remains a serious safety concern and we will be taking steps to minimize exposure. Here are the recently approved organizational guidelines.
SO, WHERE AND WHEN ARE AUDITIONS?
Auditions will be held March 18-20 with options for both online and in-person auditions.
Online auditions will be held on March 18-19 via Zoom from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Auditionees will need to sign up for a slot via Sign-Up Genius and e-mailed Zoom information in the week prior to auditions. Please be certain to provide your email during sign up so that we can send you details about the event.
Here is the link to sign up: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0B4FADAB2EA2F58-auditions
We will also be offering an in-person audition option on Saturday, March 20 from noon to 3 p.m. Please note that the audition location has changed. Auditions will be held at Bach2Rock music school located at 9558 Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22031. We will try to have some outside signage to help you along.
For public safety reasons, in-person auditions will maintain social distance. To ensure small group, our staff will notify auditionees by text when they are ready for the audition to begin. If you cannot make the dates provided or if the slots get full up, please contact the director.
UPDATE: Because of the popularity of the evening auditions slots, we have added a small number of extra audition slots on Wednesday, March 17.
Be sure to include your email address with your sign-up so that we can send you updates and additional details. If you have questions about auditions, please contact John Geddie at email@example.com and we’ll notify you.
WHAT PARTS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are over 50 named parts in The Laramie Project. It was originally produced with a cast of eight performers, each portraying 6-10 characters. A list of the characters with a short description can be found here.
For our production, we anticipate casting 10-12 performers. Ideally, we’d like to see an even split between men and women and then a variety of ages. Each performer will be playing multiple roles along with serving as ensemble members. The narrator role also floats between the cast. Each part will have multiple strong scenes throughout the show.
While not final, our proposed character separation can be found here.
CAN ANYONE TRYOUT?
Definitely. No parts are precast, and the Sterling Playmakers has a history of mixing experienced performers with novices looking for training and experience. Even if you don’t know that there’s a good role for you, our advice is always to try out. We try to keep auditions fun and fast-paced and every audition hones your skills and makes you better prepared for your next audition.
Minority auditionees are certainly encouraged. Because the performers in The Laramie Project will each be portraying multiple characters, there isn’t a requirement to portray any character as a certain ethnicity.
And a quick note. Anyone can audition, but if you are cast then you will need to join the Sterling Playmakers. Membership fees are $20 per household.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE ANYTHING PREPARED BEFORE AUDITIONS?
Nope. Auditions will only consist of non-memorized readings. The readings are included here for those performers who really prefer preparing a reading beforehand. There will be additional cold readings at auditions. Each auditionee will have the opportunity to read two short readings. If time permits, we’d like to hear additional readings and then try out some short scenes with other auditionees. The scenes are included here.
WHAT IF I CAN'T MAKE ANY OF THE AUDITION DATES BECAUSE OF MY SCHEDULE?
While not preferred, please contact director John Geddie and assistant director Lauren Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org for an alternate audition. Requests for an audition alternative should be received by no later than March 13.
THIS IS A 'TRAVELING SHOW," WHAT IS THAT? WHEN AND WHERE WILL PERFORMANCES BE?
This show was originally intended to travel more, but post-Covid we will be performing for two evenings at Franklin Park Arts Center and four evenings over two weekends at Sterling Middle School.
At this point, we expect performances at Franklin Park to be entirely masked. No one will be required to perform without a mask or in a way to endanger their safety, but the exact requirements at Sterling Middle are still under discussion. It will likely be an evolving decision made as a company.
WHAT ABOUT REHEARSALS?
Because of Covid, we will be easing into meeting up as a full cast. Please see the tentative rehearsal schedule. Understand that we will adjust this and not everyone will be called to every rehearsal. An expanded rehearsal calendar will be available at read-through.
As you can see, the plan at this stage is to conduct rehearsals online for the first three weeks before moving to working in-person, but only will small groups (3-4 performers at a time) for the next month. Chances are each performer would be on call once or twice a week for these small group rehearsals. As expected, small group rehearsals will be masked and will maintain social distance.
Most rehearsals will be at the Sterling Community Center. The regular center at 120 Enterprise Street in Sterling is currently under renovations. The temporary offices are right across the parking lot at 150 Enterprise Street. Later on, we’ll have the opportunity to rehearse at Sterling Middle and Franklin Park.
In the past, rehearsals at the community center have run from 7 to 9 p.m. Later rehearsals will go from 7 to 10 or 10:30 p.m.
SO, WHAT IS THE LARAMIE PROJECT?
In 1998, a college student named Matthew Shepard was beaten and robbed by two young men in Laramie, Wyoming. The attack was particularly vicious because Matthew was gay. He later died of his wounds. The attack focused national attention on Laramie and inspired a wave of hate crime legislation and discussion about the rights of LGBT people.
Over the next year and a half, members of the Tectonic Theater Project visited Laramie six times, conducting interviews with the people there. They then distilled the interviews and the visits into The Laramie Project. Since its premier in 2000, the play has become part of the modern theatre canon. It was performed on Broadway, then later became popular with high schools and community theatre groups. It’s seen an HBO dramatization and even a sequel that examines the long-term impact of the Matthew Shepard murder.
OH, THAT'S HEAVY.
It is, but we think it’s an important show to produce, even with the strides the LGBT movement has seen in subsequent years. It’s a powerful show, even though no violence ever appears on stage.
For our production, we hope it’s a chance to stretch your dramatic muscles in a true ensemble production. From a performer perspective, we also know that you can enjoy yourself even when telling a serious story (sorry, Hamlet).
SO, WHO'S INVOLVED?
The full staff list is filling up now, but here’s the current leadership team.
John Geddie will be directing. A Playmakers’ board member, John most recently directed The Philadelphia Story and 42nd Street. His assistant director will be Lauren Baker. A talented performer, this will be Lauren’s first foray into directing after most recently performing in Much Ado About Nothing. Kathy Bleutge is acting as producer. A Playmakers’ legend, Kathy was one of the Sterling Playmakers founders. Most recently, she directed Anne of Green Gables and Man of La Mancha. Kathy’s daughter, Lora Buckman, has agreed to be our assistant producer after just completing her producer duties with The Game’s Afoot in Reston. Playmakers veteran Scott Ruegg will be the show's technical director. He was most recently seen onstage last year during Puffs, where he did double duty as the show's technical director.
ANY LAST-MINUTE ADVICE ON AUDITIONS?
Bribes (just kidding)
The Laramie Project is different than a lot of theatre you see at the community level. While there are funny bits, it’s not a comedy. This is a drama, full of pathos, emotion and (hopefully) understanding and catharsis. It’s also different from a lot of the more serious theatre pieces out there because it deals with real events and people. Look for true moments in the script and try to be as authentic as possible.
You might also consider showing some variety and differences of character in your readings to show that you’d be able to play multiple parts. When selecting audition readings, feel free to gender swap on readings (the original had a bit of that), but don’t play it for comedy.
Our goal is to help the audience understand the events and people of Laramie at that time. There were heroes, but there were also some misguided souls – and a lot of people who were still learning and trying their best. The people of Laramie found themselves in the national spotlight at the same moment they were forced to take a hard look at themselves. We want to be fair, but honest.