Brandeis theater's 'Laramie Project' was a daring step into the unknown

The Brandeis Department of Theater Arts presented a virtual production of "The Laramie Project" this past weekend that was created entirely remotely.

Members of the cast were provided boxes of materials including lighting, headphones, costumes, props and a black curtain to transform their bedrooms and residence halls into mini-theaters.

The performance, directed by David R. Gammons, was recorded by video teleconference earlier this week and edited by professional video and sound engineers to combine feeds and layer special effects and text. The production was presented in showings Nov. 12-15.

“For us, especially for the students and the members of the creative team, this project is a daring step into the unknown.  While we can't all be in the same room, we have to maintain a shared virtual space,” said Dmitry Troyanovsky, the Barbara Sherman '54 and Malcolm L. Sherman Associate Professor of Theater Arts. “That's why our production is so important.  It keeps theater alive despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. Theater brings people together. Theater creates communities. When there's so much turmoil and uncertainty in the world, we need a hopeful shared experience.”

“The Laramie Project” is a response to the kidnapping and brutal murder of 21-year-old gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming. Members of the Tectonic Theater Project conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of Laramie, and crafted these interviews and their own experiences in Laramie into a play that is among the most-performed in the United States. Brandeis also hosted a conversation with Tectonic Theater members Moisés Kaufman and Scott Barrow, MFA '00, on Nov. 8.

While there were some unusual challenges in the remote environment, the cast aimed to treat it as a normal production, said cast member Leo Farrelly '24.

"We went through it in real time with real costumes, memorizing our lines, and using makeup and lights," he said. "I think we managed to really do something interesting. We were pioneers into a new form of theater, and it was great to be a part of the advent of something."

Categories: Arts, Student Life

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