Moment: Blog Four Days Before Opening
Narrator: The following pieces are excerpts from Afftene Taylor’s thoughts made to the blog prior to the April 5th deadline. It is four days from the opening of the show.
Moment: It’s More Than Me
This weekend, over a span of two 5-hour rehearsals, we finally got a chance to see what the “real” Laramie would look like. Also, it finally hit me that – this thing, this play – is so much more than me. The 200+ lighting cues, the nearly 5 to 6 dozen costume pieces, and the original musical accompaniment all working together this past weekend has finally come together to reveal a beautiful, moving (literally) piece of art.
Moment: It Hasn’t Hit Me
For the readers out there, right now, as I am writing this blog, it is 8:00pm on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 – four days before we open. I am not nervous one bit. I’m not even kinda nervous. I feel we have done it so many times that I would actually prefer if we could just do it tomorrow. I just want to get it over with. I want to see other people seeing this, experiencing this the way I’ve experienced it so many times before. I can’t wait to see how the audience will experience this every single night, how their laughing points will differ from night to night, where they will cry, or how frightful and taken aback they will be when I yell “God Hates Fags” to them in their faces. April 7th, where are you?
Moment: It Ain’t Just Burning in Laramie
Being a native of the South (I’m from Bessemer, Alabama – 15 miles west of Birmingham) and a student of a school that boasts a geographically diverse student population, I am sometimes asked the big “RACISM” question:
Duke Student: (In a hushed whisper) How do they treat black people in Alabama (They say “Alabama” in a really bad and insulting Southern accent)?
Me: Uh…I guess just about as good or as bad as anywhere else.
Duke Student: Really? Wow! I guess I would have never imagined that.
Me: (Awkwardly) …Yeah
Duke Student: Because you know I’ve heard things…
Me: You’ve heard things?
Duke Student: Yeah…(Awkward Silence)…So , I won’t hear the n-word like yelled to me from across the street or anything like that.
Me: All I can say is that in the 20 years I’ve lived in Alabama that has never happened. It is the place I call home. My sister was born there, my mother and father was born there, and I doubt that they would have continued to live in Alabama if they felt that they constantly felt like they were being judged/harassed based on the color of their skin.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had this conversation with people who are not from Alabama. For some reason, I have to justify my contentment with living in Alabama and being a black woman. Now, I am not naïve. I am well aware of the horrid racist struggle that took place during the Civil Rights Movement just 50-60 years ago. However, when people ask me the “racism” question, they are implying that racism took/takes place nowhere else. You don’t hear people asking New Yorkers or Chicagoans that question. NEWS FLASH: RACISM IS NOT A SOUTHERN VALUE.
This brings to mind a quote that I use often in situations like these: “It ain’t just burning in Mississippi; Hell is hot wherever you be.” Simply put, prejudice does not call every state below the Mason-Dixon Line its home. Racism is not just burning in certain places.
The same thing can be said about homophobia and Laramie. For every small town like Laramie that struggles with homophobia, there are big cities that still have people who are holding on to prejudice ideals of the past. Just recently, Damian Furtch, a gay man was brutally beaten outside of a New York City McDonalds. The police are investigating this as a hate crime. Click the link for more information.
New York City is considered to be one of the most forward-thinking, open-minded cities in the country. If homophobia can take place there, it can take place anywhere. It ain’t just burning in Laramie; Hell is hot wherever you be.