On Saturday, November 4, 2017, the Camas High School Theatre group performed “The Laramie Project”, I attended the matinee at 2:00 pm.
There are many specific reasons that individuals join together to share in a common interaction with the arts. Be it music, painting, sculpture, film, photography, dance, theatre or other forms. Generally, the reason is the same, we expect the art to affect us emotionally. Sometimes the emotion is joy, perhaps happiness, or simply to be entertained through humor or wit. The best art tells a story about real or fictional characters, their motivations, their joys and pains, to be revealed through the senses—sound, light, color, speech, smell, taste, or form.
In the case of exceptional art, that story aspires to more than just someone else’s journey discovered through an artist’s medium. Art can attain a higher level, where if the subject is willing, the story unfolds around you in such a compelling narrative that the story is no longer a foreign entity, it enters you and demands that you become part of it. “The Laramie Project” is such an opportunity. If you let it in, you become part of the story. If you let it in, and apply introspection to the experience, you will learn about yourself. In you let it in, and act on what you learned about yourself, it will change you.
“The Laramie Project” is challenging, raw, emotional material. With data, quotes, and experiences gathered over significant amount of time through observation, interview, and research. The material is then presented in a narrative that depicts just not the journey of those directly involved in Laramie and surrounding locations, but the journey of the playwrights themselves as they interact directly with the setting in space and time. Slowly building the pieces of the puzzle, and then putting those pieces into the larger tapestry of the events surrounding the life and death of Matthew Shepard.
Occasional reexamination of one’s beliefs, prejudices, and biases is a critical component to human progression. Art is often the catalyst allowing one to sort through many attributes of the human condition in rapid succession. Hate, love, guilt, passion, judgement, compassion, anger, disgust, fear, charity, hope, and forgiveness may all run their course through you in the span of just a few hours’ time.
While there are moments of humor, this is not easy or light material. Your experience with it will vary greatly dependent on your willingness to engage it and especially to honestly engage yourself. If you let it in, you will leave with a greater desire for compassion and tolerance. Even towards those things which you don’t believe and for people and cultures that you don’t understand. If we are to heal our world, our nation, our community, even our families—it will take a little more of such desire.
There will be three more showings: This Friday at 7; Saturday matinee at 2, and a final showing this Saturday at 7 pm — all at Camas Theatre (at Camas High School).
To learn more, visit www.chs.camas.wednet.edu
— by Jon Pugmire
“The Laramie Project” Image Gallery
Photos by Jon Pugmire