This is event is part of the Gay Pride month in Vancouver. The horrific incident happened in Laramie, Wyoming in the Fall of 1998. The author and the Tectonic Theater Project descended for 18 months on this small town conducting over 200 interviews. This play is the result of that endeavor.
|Aaron Filyaw, Maury Evans and Jordan Mui|
kidnapped Matthew Shepard, a gay student from the University, and took him to a secluded location, robbed him, tied him to a fence post, beat and tortured him and left him to die. And for one reason only. He was Gay. The ultimate hate crime.
But that is only part of the story. The other part deals with the townsfolk and their reactions to Gays, as well as a breeding ground for the two thugs that murdered him. You hear from the religious factions, the college, the long-time residents, his friends and family, as well as the killers and their people. What is surprising is that, in the end, it is pretty much a typical American town. Divided, yes, with rednecks and ultra religious conservative on one side and the students and the more progressive thinkers on the other. As I said, typical American town.
The Production and Players
The production is done more like a Reader’s Theatre than a conventional presentation. It is performed by ten individuals, dressed in black, with occasional accessories to identify characters, playing a variety of roles. They are all seated onstage during the entire show, standing and conversing when the situation suggests it. This might sound tedious but the material is so rich in actual testimonies from the real people that it becomes riveting most of the time.
I admire actors that can take on the mantle of several characters relying, almost exclusively, on their own abilities. For the most part, they do well. Some seemed to be struggling with lines at times and the pacing should be picked up in places, especially in Act II. But, by in large, they did very well with some difficult material.
|Mimi Wilaki, Aaron Filyaw, Mara McGreevey, Mason Hall, |
and Rebecca Rowland Hines
Outstanding were Maury Evans as a long-time Gay resident, a Catholic priest, an examining policeman
and, as mention, powerful as Matthew’s father. Also impressive is Gene Biby (head of Clark’s drama dept.) in various roles. He brings an ease and inevitability in approaching his characters. He was extremely effective as George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the director of Rent, both at Clark College. A talent I hope we’ll see involved in many more productions.
|Ia Solis "is captivating."|
Broom (Serendipity’s Artistic Director and co-founder) and Flanagan’s direction is quite compelling, letting the dialogue and characters dominate the stage. They have assembled a fine cast to tell a difficult and complex story. As mentioned, all it requires is to be tightened up in places. A brave choice that needs to be seen.
I recommend this play as it is both educational and engrossing. But it is about very adult situations so may not be for everyone. If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.
Tickets are $15 general admission and may be purchased online at www.serendipityplayers.org, or reservations can be made by calling 360-834-3588. Tickets are also available at the door. Doors open 30 minutes before the performance.
By Dennis Sparks, Guest Reviewer
By Dennis Sparks, Guest Reviewer
All photos provided