continued “I don’t have that reaction to the play,” she said. “It’s not one-sided. It talks about all the different opinions because it’s based on interviews with all of the people of the town of Laramie. It makes people think, and that’s what I think theater should do.”
Indeed, Spring said “The Laramie Project” inspired quite a bit of thought among its young cast, most of whom weren’t born when Shepard was killed 15 years ago this October.
“My students are 15, 16, 17 years old, so they don’t even know his story. I remember it vividly being in the news when it happened in 1998, but they’re their own lifetime away from the event,” Spring said. “On the anniversary, we talked about it. They each went to a quiet place in the auditorium to think about what it means to them to be a part of the play and what they were feeling and what was going through their mind and to write it down. Most of them ended up writing a letter to Matthew Shepard. I didn’t expect that, but it was a nice surprise.”
Working on a project like this one also helps to put into perspective things like New York’s Dignity Act and the various character education programs students have experienced throughout their school careers.
“Our principals talk about it all the time to the kids, so we said, ‘Let’s practice what we preach and use it as an educational tool,’” Spring said.
One English teacher at LHS has already used “The Laramie Project” in class and will be having her students attend this weekend’s production. Spring is hopeful other faculty members will follow suit.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of faculty to come, because there are so many connections they can make to their curriculum,” she said.