His Name is Jedadiah Schultz

Or his name is Andy Chu. It really could be both. Just saying.

Because really, looking for differences between the two of us is a lot harder than looking for the similarities. We are two heterosexual theatre nerds raised in stable, conservative Protestant homes and attending college with the intention of becoming professional actors. We will have both played Jedadiah Schultz. We were both thrilled to become involved in The Laramie Project.

And we both had no idea what it was we signed up for.

I write this now at 5:11 P.M., Thursday, March 31, in the cold, fluorescently lit rooms in the very back of the Bryan Center. I have come here an hour and forty-nine minutes before rehearsal to try to get a handle on the character of Jedadiah. The pressure I have put on myself to get Jedadiah right has crammed me up in my head, where I cannot work, and I intend to fix this in this hour and forty-nine minutes. I write this as I rehearse.



When Jeff asked me in our individual session so many weeks ago what Jedadiah Schultz was, I thought for a moment, and I told him, “He’s someone who’s thrust into a world where everything that wasn’t supposed to happen, happened.” And what better way is there to describe matriculating to a university? As a freshman (and I write now at the expense of being trite), the whole world is upside-down. For starters, there is a world, and it’s hot and wild and kaleidoscopic and so unimaginably real: and this, you are told repeatedly by FACs and GAs and professors (and bus drivers), is your world to crack wide open. Political, social, religious, sexual mores are thrown out the window, and you have to learn to create yourself again and for the first time.


So when I met Jeff and found out he was directing The Laramie Project, which was also to be part of the course material for my FOCUS class with him, things really started to click. Not only was Jeff an incredible theatre professor, he also owned his own professional theatre just ten minutes from campus. More than that, he seemed to like me–as a person, a student, and as an actor.

I read The Laramie Project in early September, in just a few hours, and I was taken with the material. The concept of documentary theatre was new, edgy, artistic–and I relished the thought of being a part of it. Particularly, I wanted a chance to play this one character named Jedadiah Schultz, with whom I felt I had connected as I read. And sure enough, when I arrived at callbacks for the show, Jeff had me read Jedadiah’s first Angels in America monologue, as if he had somehow known.

So I read it, and I knew that I could really make a splash at Duke (and with Jeff) if I did a good enough job.

There was, of course, the issue of how Jedadiah’s character arc ended. He gave in, I felt, to the pressures around him, renouncing the ways of his parents and his religion and buying into homosexuality like any other post-modern relativist. But he was such a good character. He was like the best character.

So I decided to do it.



When I was in middle school, two women and a young girl moved in next door. When I asked my mom who the girl’s mother was, she told me that the women were homosexual. I asked what that meant.

Of course, in Asheville, North Carolina, the lesbian capital of the East Coast, it was not unexpected for my mother. It was, however, my first encounter with girls who didn’t like boys. It soon became more regular. In high school, one of my best friends, Deidre, came out to me (I had had a crush on her, so the experience wasn’t easy), and I became more aware of homosexuality in the media, among the theatre kids I hung out with, and in the world at large.

I also knew, from my private Christian high school education, that homosexuality was wrong. Speaking in religious terms, it wasn’t how God had intended it to happen, and no amount of human desire could justify it. After all, humans wanted to do all sorts of things to each other, but desire didn’t seem to justify rape, or murder, or theft.

At the same time, I wasn’t going to treat the gay people I knew any differently. I loved Deidre, and besides, most of the gay people I knew seemed nice enough. I just disagreed with their lifestyle.

The same was true when I got to college. I knew the chances of my coming into contact with out homosexuals was much higher–a.) because of how open and liberal college campuses tended to be, and b.) because I was going to study theatre. This, I knew, became especially true after I was cast in a play called The Laramie Project.



Come March, life was different. I was firmly entrenched in Duke theatre, even before The Laramie Project, which would be the fourth show I had been involved with since arriving; I had great friends and a wonderful girlfriend; and classes were going pretty well. Laramie was going well, too–in every character but Jedadiah Schultz. The murderer, the Mormon, the bar owner–they were all fine, but there was something about Jedadiah that I couldn’t get.

What I realized was that Jedadiah was too much like me. Or I was too much like him. Either way, we were too similar for me to get a handle on him, because who, really, can get a handle on himself? Plus, Jedadiah was going where I didn’t. Jedadiah took a side. With my own opinions about homosexuality in limbo, I was being asked to play someone who chose to believe in it, who was forced to make a decision.

So I did.


And the truth is, I can’t any longer justify what I believed about being gay. Like so many things, what I had believed simply didn’t make sense in college, in this bristling new world. And in reality, I had known this for some time–I just had never been able to admit it.

But Jedadiah is me. Jedadiah is my coming out.

I am a straight man who thought that homosexuality was wrong. Now, after Jedadiah, I am a straight man who thinks that his gay friends and his gay professors are not so different from himself.


It is now 6:48 P.M., Thursday, March 31. I can hear Kimi yelling her email from the next room. It is time for rehearsal now. I’ll see you all in a minute.

6 thoughts on “His Name is Jedadiah Schultz

  1. Andy, it’s 1:16 am.
    It’s been an emotional evenig tonight:seeing all our hard work put together; sharing after a week of work with our designers, and producers and parents.
    Everyone did such a fine job. But I was especially pleased with your ownership of Jedediah tonight. There was a believable innocence in the character that had the courage to become someone else while staying the same. Growth and Maturity without losing the passion of youth.

    Your entry made me cry. Ed sleeps next to me snoring and I’ve just read your beautiful entry. Most of the time you feel lucky to reach just one student, or one audience member. I love that you have the courage to grow. Our company is such an incredible group. Each and everyone of you has worked hard, sacrificed, and been a part of making something truly unique. Thank you for caring like you do. Onward into tech. READ JULES BLOG FOR EXCELLENT NOTES FROM TONIGHT? I will give you my notes as we tech through the weekend.

    Xo Jeffrey

  2. Andy – this is so great. so so great. reflective and honest and fun all at once. you’re doing a great job with jedadiah and i can’t wait for an audience to see it come thursday!

  3. So, I ran across this blog post a few days ago when I did a google search for “Jedadiah Schultz,” and I am so glad that I did!

    Weird story, actually – my former high school did “The Laramie Project” in February, and it’s been on my mind ever since. Now I am, for the first time in my life, involved in theater myself – doing sound for what my college is calling “Summer Stock in April,” which consists of three plays performed in repertory over a span of two weeks. When looking up information on the play “Bus Stop,” I was intrigued to find that the real Jedadiah Schultz played the character of Bo, just about a year ago! It was such a weird/cool connection, so I googled his name, looking for more information, and inevitably ran across a bunch of stuff about “The Laramie Project.”

    Sorry, I have a tendency to ramble. But I do have a point, I promise! Because I feel like I have a connection of sorts to the character of Jedadiah Schultz as well. I’m in my third year at a conservative Christian college, and have believed for years that homosexuality is wrong, despite having two of my closest friends come out to me as lesbians in high school. I had that same “live and let live” attitude. But over the past 6 years since graduating high school, things have been slowly chipping away at that belief. More and more friends and acquaintances coming out of the closet. A lot of discussion on the subject on a Christian message board I’ve been a part of for years – and one of my favorite people there coming out as a lesbian, and talking about the challenges she’s faced with that.

    And then in February, my friend Jake invited me to a “peaceful gathering” to be held at our former high school, in support of their production of “The Laramie Project.” WBC was coming to my hometown. I’m not generally an angry person, but my immediate reaction was rage – “How DARE they come to MY town and mess with MY friends!” Without a second thought, I told Jake, “I’ll be there.”

    I’ve never been more proud of my hometown as when I was standing out there in front of the high school with hundreds of people, presenting a united front to say that there was no room for hate in Hastings, MN. WBC didn’t show up, later saying that the students at Hastings High School were “a lost generation.” (Nothing could be further from the truth!)

    After the peace gathering, I went in to see the play. I think all of the characters had an impact on me, but the one I related to most was Jedadiah. And I found, at the end of the play, that I as well could no longer justify what I had believed. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t believe that homosexuality was wrong anymore. And if it is, well, I would much rather err on the side of love than the side of hate. I think God will understand.

    So I just wanted to say thank you for writing this and putting it out there. This play changes people. It changed me. And it’s so wonderful to hear how it has changed other people as well. Thank you for putting into words so many things that I have been unable to – partly because my only involvement with the play was being in the audience for one performance. I still struggle with finding words to explain the profound impact “The Laramie Project” has had on my life. But reading this post, and this blog in general, has assured me that I am far from the only one feeling the things that I am feeling and being impacted by the play in this way. I am so grateful.

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