The Laramie moments are microcosms of all of our lives. Amongst the cast, we joke constantly that there is literally a line from the play that can go with any conversation. But today, the truth of this play was felt by many of us. Rehearsal went great, but also went beyond just smoothing out the transitions and laughing when our blocking went awry.
A lot of us agreed that the emotion started mounting when we got to the end of Act II. MOMENT: HOMECOMING. Seeing the transformation of the character of Harry Woods has been incredible. The tiny gestures and intonations in Spencer’s voice and movement is a beautiful thing to watch.
The moments move the play along so fast that I hardly have time to see with the rapid changes of emotion. Then suddenly, we’re at the end of the act, MOMENT: THAT NIGHT. I always know it’s coming but it seems like every time Cameron reads Rulon Stacey and announces the death of Matthew Shepard, it hurts so much more. When the act ends, we all exit. Usually wait of stage until Don tells us to check the presetting of our costumes for the final act.
But today was so different for so many of us. I know that at least Spencer, Jacob and I left the stage sobbing. Crumpled into little crying queer babies. Just uncontrollable broken people. The cast on that side of the stage circled up and we started talking about our parents’ fear for our safety and various coming out stories. The scene between Marge (Afftene) and Reggie (Emma) shows another intense parent-child interaction that made a lot of us think about our families.
Throughout this play, the cast has gotten incredibly close, and I think we’re understanding more and more what’s at stake. Naomi and I ended up talking for two and a half hours after rehearsal. This is our lives. All of these relationships and connections we’re building is going to show through our telling of the Matthew Shepard story.
I think we’re learning more about each other’s experiences with the deaths of friends, hate and violence that we’ve felt, fear and rage, loved ones with HIV and AIDS, coming out, being allies, and so much more. Today I am so grateful for being part of this cast and the amazing people I am learning more about. People who are allowing me to take my own walls down and share my own secrets. People who, a few months ago I had never seen before, are holding me as I sob backstage or telling me their own secrets.
For all the critiques that Laramie has gotten in our class meetings and discussions, the Project for me has been one of strength through my own losses, and I am honored to feel this love. I know that when we open this play, everyone will see these amazing bonds we’ve forged.
-Summer Puente, Saturday rehearsal March 26th