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College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Students and Faculty Discuss The Laramie Project, First Virtual Play of 2020

Theatre has always been used as a method of expression and communication, and it is no different during a pandemic. The Laramie Project is a play that is based off of real events which occurred in October of 1998 surrounding the beating and subsequent death of a gay man in Laramie, Wyoming. 

This production showcases the heights and depths of human compassion and humanity. Sydney Baichtal, the Stage Manager for this production and a junior majoring in Musical Theatre, said that her favorite thing about this play was what the Director John Crosthwaite and Assistant Director Jacob Honnold made the audience feel. “Our amazing directors really tried to make the audience feel like these events are happening right now, because they are,” said Baichtal. The Laramie Project has been Baichtal’s first experience as a Stage Manager and it has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding positions she has encountered, although she has had some experience as a Stage Management intern for the Music Circus in Sacramento. Stepping into a leadership role is never easy, but luckily the production team and cast members were all able to boost each other up and help with any unforeseen challenges that had arisen. “I want to make sure people understand that theatre is alive and can help heal people in troubling times,” said Baichtal. 

Honnold, a senior double majoring in Musical Theatre and English Education with a minor in Creative Writing, had been wanting to try his hand at being an Assistant Director and was put in touch with Crosthwaite. “Due to my own queer perspective and interest in the Matthew Shepard story, we hit it off immediately,” said Honnold. Not only is it his first time helping direct, but it is his first time not performing in the production itself. “I've previously worked on stage in our amazing theaters, and the experience shifting to an online performance space has been a new challenge,” said Honnold. “Figuring out the logistics of virtual theatre such as actor availability, camera skills, audio skills, cinematography and presentation took Director John Crosthwaite and I a good few weeks to grow accustomed to and to build a formula for how rehearsals and recording would function.” One of Honnold’s favorite things about this production was the creativity shown by the actors. Many had to build their own shots within their home, and Honnold feels like their ensemble did the story justice. The main thing that Honnold wants the audience to get from this production is just how much hate, prejudice, violence, media and gossip all feed off of eachother in both past and contemporary settings. 

Both Baichtal and Honnold have gained valuable experience through their involvement in this virtual production which they hope to bring with them throughout their careers in theatre. Baichtal hopes to continue performing and stage managing in a professional theatre environment after graduation. Honnold plans to become a teacher in both English and Theatre and hopes to continue his passion for directing as well.

For tickets to the virtual production, click the e-poster to the right, the production will be available through Sunday, November 15, 2020. 

-- words by Courtney Chapman, PR Intern, College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Laramie Project marketing poster