As interesting as it was to grow up in a city as culturally diverse and entertaining as Singapore, I always felt that I was missing out on so many other things that were out there in this world. Coming to college in America has been eye opening in so many senses and working on the Laramie project has been an amazing opportunity to further my scope of experience both for life and my interest in acting. While my education grounded me in a solid understanding of math, science and other quantitative methods of study I feel like it was always at the expense of other things like cultivating a passion for the arts and even cultivating a sense of understanding towards people who had different cultural and even sexual dispositions.
The Laramie project in itself has been an awesome play to read and even imagine being a part of. Having sort of dealt with the play in an earlier semester I found that I hadn’t truly come to realize and appreciate the nuances of the play until much later. I took for granted the research that had probably gone into putting the piece together. Even though it was the first piece of documentary theatre I had dealt with, I didn’t truly appreciate it’s form and what that same form would enable it to convey. Meeting with Maude Mitchell was an incredibly moving experience for me – not because she had been involved with the project in its inception, but because that was the point when I transited from viewing Laramie project as a play, to viewing it as a project about this perceived intrinsically real place at an intrinsically real time. It was at that point that the magnanimity of what I was dealing with hit me. I wasn’t just involved in a play – I was involved in re-interpreting a significant event in history.
Watching Maude flip the pages of book – her emotions were palpable and I almost felt like she was somehow bringing us back with her to the time when all this was taking place. Observing someone else being so vulnerable in front of a group of random students was moving – but more importantly it highlighted the stakes that were at hand. I could have thought and thought intellectually about the stakes that I was supposed to consider but without that epiphany, I would have been no closer to realizing it than I would have been to starting as a power forward in the NBA.
One-on-one sessions were something I’d never experienced before and they were helpful in more ways than I can begin to describe. An unfortunate by-product is that I now think of myself discovering a dead body an unhealthy amount. It’s been an incredible opportunity to truly focus on understanding the character nuances and the need to figure out what it is that each character wants. I suppose that’s the struggle in switching between so many characters in such an intricate play.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I auditioned for Laramie. I guess this is just one of those things in life that happens – and then blows your mind in the best possible way. What can you do?