A tragedy can define a town. It can also strengthen a community. This is one of the many messages presented in The Laramie Project, a play which involves real interviews from the citizens of Laramie and addresses the aftermath of a deadly beating that forever changed a city.
On Wednesday, Seaholm students presented this play to the sophomore, junior, and senior classes.
“I think we had a good reaction for most of it, even though we probably cut out a third of the entire show,” said junior Ryan Glavin, an actor in the play. “We had a good student reaction from it and I hope that students understand the message of the play, which is acceptance. If that is all people get out of it, that’s a good thing.”
J.P. Tallent, a senior at Seaholm and an actor in the production, agreed.
“From what I heard from around school, people actually enjoyed it,” he said. “And I thought it went well too, I thought it was a good way to talk about an iffy subject around the school.”
Some teachers thought that the play would be disruptive because students would be required to miss class.
“I had teachers who emailed that said, as always, it’s right before finals, so there was a lot of grumbling about missing class right before finals,” said principal Dee Lancaster. “But everybody said, including some of the toughest ones who have a lot of content to go over, that it was well worth giving up the morning of class in order to do that. Overall it was very positive.”
Lancaster added student attendance was not a problem.
“I only had six students who officially turned in the opt-out form,” Lancaster said. “Now were there people who stayed home that morning, maybe for that reason, there could be, but they got called in. There were only about 45 students out, which is our average. Our attendance was very good.”
Scott Craig the GSA and Diversity Club sponsor who is involved with The Laramie Project, was pleased with the reactions of students to the play.
“I thought that students were actually both very respectful and really interested in what was happening. I thought the audience really listened to the play,” he said. “They were really impressed by the fact that there were so many of their fellow students standing up there and sticking their neck out by being facilitators.”
After the Wednesday performance, students were led by student facilitators in discussions. Students talked about the overall message of the play and the importance of acceptance at Seaholm.
“I was worried we would have had a lot of I don’t want to do this, I don’t agree, but I think the way that we framed it wasn’t about the morality or immorality of being gay it was more about how we treat people and see people,” Lancaster said. “I thought it was good and the student facilitators did a fantastic job.”
According to Craig, the discussions went well.
“From the reports I heard, some classes had great discussions, some classes it was hard to get discussions going, so it was probably uneven. But the fact that we did it is the important thing.”
Seaholm senior Dana Smith was uncertain about the play’s long term impact.
“I don’t think Seaholm will be any different but I think it was a good message to have for the school,” Smith said.
Junior Noah Gaber, an actor in The Laramie Project, also thought that the play went well but he doesn’t think it will end up making a change at Seaholm.
“I think that the play might have opened some Seaholm students’ minds but I don’t think that just one play and one discussion are enough to change an entire school’s mindset,” Gaber said. “But it’s very good that we did it.”