Tonight we went to see The Laramie Project at the Boy's high school. We had been warned over and over that there were going to be a large bevy of protesters from Reverand Fred Phelp's Westboro Baptist Church of Topaka, KS. but they never showed up. Or if they did, they were invivible to us. It was a dark and stormy night and perhaps they weren't interested in standing outside a high school in the pouring rain with the entire police force around them. I don't know, but they didn't show.
Who did show was pretty interesting, however. Barney Frank, our congressional representative was there, as was Mayor David Cohen (better known in our family as Mr Bean due to his amazing likeness to the Rowan Atkinson character). Many many of the attendees were elderly grandparents with their entire families in tow. Lots of kids, too.
The performance was beyond anything I'd expected. It was the most professional performance outside of boadway I've witnessed. I was so impressed. These kids were masterful. Perhaps it was because they had material to work with well beyond Bye Bye Birdie, perhaps it was because expectations were so high, perhaps it was because it was the final night of the 3-night run. I don't know, but kudos are due to the entire cast and crew for an absolutely flawless performance. We were in tears during the last scene. The Girl cried so hard that I thought she was going to start sobbing. Never have I seen her so moved by something so political other than Hotel Rwanda, which is her favorite movie. Maybe I've implanted my outrage of unfairness and political awareness in her afterall.
For those who have never seen this play, it is the story of a theatre group that went to Laramie Wyoming after the death of Matthew Shepard to interview the people of Laramie and turn it into a play. There is a limited number of cast members that play many different roles, from a limo driver who once took Matthew to Ft Collins CO to a gay bar, to the bartender who served him his last beer, to the bike rider who found his body tied to the fence, to the police officer who called the EMTs. The actors were remarkable in the depth of their performances, changing from reporter to actor to rancher to priest by adding or removing a jacket. The sets were simple, risers and a long strip of highway were the most pronounced parts of the set.
Part of the play takes place at Matt's funeral, where the aforementioned Reverend Phelps and his band of evil parishioners had the unmitigated gall to protest outside the two churches and 1 public park in which the funeral took place. Thousands of people from all over the west came to the funeral, so many they couldn't be accomodated in either of two churches holding services, and were placed in a park across the street where they prayed in a blinding snowstorm while Phelps screamed about how "God hates fags". The picture above depicts a townswoman who staged her own protest with friends donning angel wings and surrounding Phelps with wings up to fence him in. She gave her angels ear plugs to drown out the sounds of Phelps.
If you ever get a chance to see this play, do it. It is profoundly moving. Stumble It! JBlog Me