Not even Covid-19 could stop English/Theatre Arts teacher Christina Colangelo and the Blind Brook Theater Department from going ahead with this fall’s production of The Laramie Project. Although the play will not be live, everyone will be able to view and enjoy the show from the comfort of their own homes. Filming has wrapped up, and the release date will be released shortly.
Based on the true story of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay college student, The Laramie Project explores the causes and effects surrounding his 1998 murder in Laramie, Wyoming. According to Colangelo, “through the actions of the townspeople, the audience will walk away with a better understanding of tolerance, acceptance, and self-love. The show encourages you to overcome prejudice, while also challenging you to be a better person.” The Laramie Project also influenced the ideas and beliefs of those belonging to the cast and production team. Tess O’Brien, the production’s student director, commented that “as a society, we think we are progressive and making a lot of strides, but we still have a long way to go. Matthew Shepard’s murder was only twenty years ago and that really isn’t a long time. Although we have become more accepting of all people, there is still work to be done.”
In addition to the compelling story, the format of The Laramie Project made it adaptable to the restrictions surrounding Covid-19. This play is ideal because it doesn’t require too many interactions between the cast since it is primarily monologue-based.
Rehearsals took place over Zoom from October to early November. After two weeks of in-person blocking and rehearsals, the play was filmed throughout the week of November 16th. “Filming went well, says Colangelo. “All of the students were prepared, helpful, and eager to perform.”
With a cast of 32, it was certainly a challenge to bring The Laramie Project to life in this “new normal”. “We had to be creative with camera angles and placement of actors to avoid being close together,” explained Colangelo. Masks and social distancing protocols were enforced at each rehearsal. However, when it was necessary to remove masks for filming purposes, actors were required to be at least twelve feet apart.
After the disappointment following the cancellation of last spring’s musical, Les Misérables, the theater department feels so fortunate to have had this opportunity despite all the changes and restrictions. “This production has shown us that even being six feet apart, with masks, we can work together and share our love and support for each other,” said Clara Hastings, who plays the role of Catherine Connolly. Hastings explained, “Even with all of these guidelines put in place, it shows the power of the BBHS Theater community.”
Make sure to stay tuned for information regarding the production’s release date!