Thursday, March 04, 2004

Theatre Thursday: The Laramie Project

Going into The Laramie Project last night, I wasn't expecting much. I'm not a big fan of agit-prop and I had assumed that that was what this play was.

It's always best to go into a play with low expectations, because you inevitably end up with a fine night out. Sometimes, you even get blown right out of the water.

The Laramie Project, a documentary play, gets almost all of its text from a series of interviews Colorado's Tectonic Theater Project conducted in the wake of Matthew Sheppard's 1998 murder. Studio 180's production of it at Buddies in Bad Times is spot on.

Great performances, great play. What an exciting, relevant and humanist show.

Not much being written about it in the press right now, mainly because this is a remount, so I thought it was important for me to blog it. Go buy tickets now.

A have a quibble though. From the production notes:
Plays that deal with important and often controversial social and political issues are generally seen by those already aware of the issues at hand. The expected Laramie audience member is educated about and concerned with questions of hate, violence, tolerance and homophobia. In remounting this play, we hope to expand our audience to include those who may not have previously considered the issues brought to light in Laramie.
By remounting it at Buddies in Bad Times? Not likely.

This is definitely a dilemna that "social issue" theatre has to deal with on a regular basis. Outside of scheduling school performances, how do you get non-theatre-goers to go and see theatre?

Perhaps the only recent play I know that has succeeded in doing that is Steve Galluccio's Mambo Italiano, which was, of course, snootily huffed at by most Montreal and Toronto theatre critics. (Gaëtan Charlebois excluded.)

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