DMU students in rehearsals for The Laramie Project

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A cast of performers from the Drama programme at DMU are currently in rehearsals for ‘The Laramie Project’: a powerful piece of theatre based on interviews with the inhabitants of Laramie, Wyoming, following the brutal murder of a young man in 1998.

Cast member, Joe Middleton, took some time during rehearsals to let us know how he’s discovering the piece and its characters and what audiences can expect from the play:

“Rehearsals for The Laramie Project are now in full swing, with most of the play loosely blocked with a skeleton structure to now build upon!

I’m really enjoying developing each character stage by stage and this is even easier now that my lines are near enough learnt. You feel such a responsibility for the characters that you are portraying because of the fact that every word spoken is true. Poignant moments of mine within the play include a moment with Stephen Mead Johnson, a Unitarian chuch minister, when he’s describing the fence where Matthew Shepherd was tied to and killed, and how its become almost a pilgrimage site for visitors to the town. Imagining the place where Matthew Shepherds brutal beating took place creates such a spiritual feel for the moment and is quite difficult to portray in order to do it justice, but I will get there!

Today in rehearsals, we used this moment and conducted an improvisation in which I took a group of people to the fence. This helped me to grasp the sense of spirituality that the character would have felt from going out there, and convey it much more effectively in my monologue. Another role which I’ve been working on extensively is the character of Harry Woods, a 52 year old gay man who describes the homecoming parade that he wanted to march with in Matthew Shepherds name. However, he recounts how he was unfortunately unable to march that day because of a cast on his leg due to a fall, so he had to watch from his window. It is quite a touching moment in the play, and really pulls with your heartstrings as he becomes so emotionally overwhelmed by the amount of people he sees marching for Matthew. Conveying this moment in the monologue with a true sense of realism was difficult at first but now I’ve developed a much greater connection with the character and am therefore able to understand where he is coming from. I think I feel sorry for the fact that he was unable to join the march that day but also happy that, as he says in the speech, ‘He got to see this in his lifetime’.

Tomorrow is a full loose run of the play, and with lines learnt, I can’t wait to put all that I have worked on together and hopefully feel a great sense of fulfillment for the work we have done so far.”

The Laramie Project runs at Curve 12 – 17 March.

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