In March, SJK saw the culmination of several months of hard work by the cast of The Laramie Project, this year's Upper School play. This talented ensemble cast impressed their peers and the SJK community on Thursday, March 9 and Friday, March 10 with the quality of their performances in a production that was both technically and emotionally challenging. Supported by a very capable student technical crew and stage manager, along with Ms. Hunter Stewart and recent SJK grad Ethan Warren '22, these students thoroughly impressed with their poise, confidence, and presence on the stage. Please enjoy the Director's Note from me, Mr. Newman, along with these photos from the performance taken by Mr. McDonald.
Director’s Note: I first directed The Laramie Project at SJK in 2005 (we may have a member of that original cast in our audience Thursday evening). It has been almost 25 years since Matthew Shepard’s death, and while much has changed in that time, the kind of intolerance and hate—particularly towards the LGBTQ+ community—that led to his death is far from a thing of the past. A quick glance at the daily news makes this clear, whether it is protests against drag queen story times in Guelph, issues with hazing and hockey culture at Hockey Canada, or so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bills passed into law in Florida. In our schools, too, while there is, broadly speaking, greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, homophobia remains one of the more common forms of intolerance among young people, often without much genuine reflection on the subject. For this reason, it felt like the right time to revisit this powerful and challenging play.
The play is challenging for its cast, whose ten members have to play over fifty characters in an ensemble format with many quick changes. It is a significant achievement for this group of young performers just to take on that challenge, and I believe they rise to the occasion. It can also be an emotionally demanding play for cast and audience, given its subject matter. Having said that, it is a play that reminds us not just of the human capacity to hurt others and to show intolerance but, more importantly, of the human capacity to resist this. At a time when social media and other forces seem to amplify hatred and intolerance, theatre such as The Laramie Project reminds us of the humanity behind these issues. I remember being deeply moved when I first saw this play, and I hope that you are able to experience some of that power and that grace during the performances.