The Laramie Project by cast member Anna Cohen
Being someone who celebrates the fact that life is made up of different people, all individuals believing different things and being who they are, or who they are told to be at times, I believe that the world would not be the same if it wasn’t for this variation. If everyone thought the same, then what kind of boring world would this be? I therefore feel that preaching is not a great activity as I feel enforcing your opinions on to other people, so strongly in some cases, is not fair or reasonable as we all have our own minds and should embrace this.
I recently attended the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv, Israel. I had great fun, the spirit and atmosphere was so high and triumphant! I feel as though it may come across as defensive to mention that I personally am straight, however I do not use it to defend the fact that I’m not gay, instead I use it to show that the support of the heterosexual community is just as important as the strong sense of togetherness that the homosexual community have themselves.
Therefore, by being a cast member of The Laramie Project, I feel a strong sense of support for the story of Matthew Shepard and can proudly voice the different thoughts and stories of the members of Laramie. The deadly event that occurred in 1998 caused much controversy and outrage, people wanting to defend their home town, like old Alison Mears who tells us how Laramie is ‘S.O.L’, or to defend their religion, like the twisted Fred Phelps, a Baptist Christian minister who enrages many by telling us that ‘God hates fags’, or most importantly to defend Matthew, like his father Dennis Shepard, who tells us how Matthew was ‘a winner’.
A character I play, Zubaida Ula, talks about how she too is different, being a muslim girl she is part of a minority in her local town as well and tells us how people can’t comprehend and ask infuriatingly impolite questions about why she feels the need to stand out, even if they are aware it is for religious reasons. There is so much ignorance in the world, and for people who are not open minded, sometimes they just wish not to understand. I also play Kristin Price, the murderer’s girlfriend, who explains how Aaron Mckinney, the perpetrator, ‘wanted to teach [Matthew] a lesson not to come on to straight people’. This is a great illustration of the oblivion that led to the attack in the first place. I have to sit in my chair and embody Kristin for a while before she speaks so that the lines are spoken with complete detachment from my own personal views. As my fellow cast members have mentioned, these are real people, so using the word ‘character’ seems incorrect and all the more important for us to ‘do our best to say it correct’.I look forward to sharing The Laramie Project with Leicester and De Montfort University at Curve Theatre and hope that the members of Tectonic Theater company would be proud of our performance. I think it is amazing how each one of us have felt so emotionally attached to this story, a truly well written and put together play that will pull the heartstrings of many.The Laramie Project runs at Curve 12 – 17 March.
Tickets only £5 or play and a pint for £7
The Laramie Project is a collaborative partnership between Curve Theatre and De Montfort University, performed by DMU students and directed by Josh Seymour.