By Grace Rorke
The Laramie Project is a play by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project. It is set in Laramie, Wyoming, 1998, after the murder of twenty-one year old Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming. His murder was declared a hate crime and drew attention to the lack of legislation regarding hate crimes at the time. The play is based on hundreds of interviews with residents of the town, journal entries, and news reports. Below is an interview with Seth Rabinowitz, who will be playing Matt Galloway, University student, and Dennis Shepard, the father of the deceased Matthew Shepard, in the 2018 Players production of The Laramie Project.
CL: In the past you have been a member of the Players crew. What made you decide to switch from the wings to the stage?
SR: I have always wanted to be on stage, but ever since I was young I’ve had really bad stage fright. Last year I auditioned, but sadly I didn’t get a role. In the fall, I didn’t audition because I was pretty busy with all of the stuff that I do around school. I realized that this was my last chance to be on stage and try to act, so I thought why not do it, and it obviously worked out pretty well for me.
CL: You are a leader of Outside the Rec. Can you tell me a little bit about this and why it is important when performing a play such as The Laramie Project?
SR: As a leader of Outside the Rec, it is my job to make sure that our messages about challenging beliefs and promoting acceptance get through to the cast and hopefully the audience. We have held a meeting in collaboration with GSA, held a cast and crew discussion, met with members of the company who wrote the play, and we are doing a lobby display that shows the facts of the actual incident. We hope these things can establish a safe space where we, as members of the SCH community can grow from this production.
CL: You play Dennis Shepard, the father of the boy who was murdered due to his sexuality. How have you been preparing for this big, dramatic role as someone who is just beginning to act? How have other members of Players helped you get ready for this part?
SR: To prepare for my role in a play as serious as this, I have been working with many faculty members, specifically Ms. Rogers, the director of the play. I have also gotten help from past directors such as Mr. Van Rooten, and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, who helped write and produce the original play, have also worked with us.
CL: This is the last Players show that you and many of your peers will be a part of. What will you miss most about Players and how has Players affected your experience at SCH?
SR: I will miss the sense of community that Players has given me. The group of people in Players is like no other, and they have helped me grow during my two years as a part of it. Players has helped me figure out the person that I want to be and knowing that I am leaving soon, I cherish the “warmth of the igloo” even more.
CL: In a few sentences, can you tell me why people should go see The Laramie Project?
SR: One of the things I found in this show is that it displays a wide spectrum of views and positions, so that the beliefs of every person sitting in the audience will be challenged.. The show is not black and white; there are a lot of grey areas that are important for people to learn about and experience.