Walking in I was met with an impressive atmosphere of industry. Both the cast and production team were working tirelessly together to perfect what remained of the scenes. I took a corner in the Corpus Playroom to myself and watched how the cast beautifully handled their lines. They were well trained and it showed in their performances but it was evident that they were keen for more that just, “good,” when several of them asked their Director (Joe Jukes) to repeat the same scene time after time. Ten minutes in and Joe calls a lunch break and I get to speak with both him and his assistant Sarah Stacey.
Knowing nothing about the play, I ask what it’s about and Joe tells me that, “it’s a documentary style play that was written from two hundred interviews that were conducted with the residents of Laramie, Wyoming in response to a hate crime where a gay college student was killed.” He went on to call it, “the narrative of an internalized crime.” Sarah continues and says how, “every word you hear is from an actual resident of Laramie.” I was drawn into the plotline – it seemed intriguing and basing the play on interviews with the townsfolk had the potential of providing insight into the mindsets of conservative townsfolk.
I asked next why the play should be of interest to students here. Sarah suggested that because Cambridge was such a liberal place it was easy to fall into the trap of believing everyone held liberal beliefs. It’s interesting and eye opening for Cambridge students. Something everyone should come and see, I thought.
Inspiration was a big question on the table. Joe talked me through how varied the people involved in the interviews were, how some were, “religious and others involved in the legal system and some others even personally connected to the case.” Sarah told me how the play was, “not judgmental at all,” and how that led her to directing the play. It was clear that the focus of the play was how it was possible for, “good to come out from evil.” It wasn’t a play about demonizing people, rather something to be embraced for the positive influence it has.
Because of the close setting of the Corpus Playroom, the play would potentially provide a close engagement between the characters and the audience. It explores each and every character from their perspective and gives the audience a chance to make up their mind.
I watched the cast have lunch together. They were exhausted and overworked but there was real spirit. The cast joked about how they hated Joe’s dungarees and his striped tees. Everyone was just so happy! They were also all really excited – I almost felt I was an intruder and felt guilty for not being happy enough but I still had a long day ahead.
For the most part, the cast and directors were confident they’d deliver on Tuesday but it was energy they were concerned most about. The play required involvement and a constant energy push in the delivery of the lines. I am however confident that come Tuesday night, the Corpus Playroom will be witness to a fine performance.
Tickets to The Laramie Project are available now for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from https://www.corpusplayroom.com/whats-on/drama/the-laramie-project.aspx and cost £6/5.
Hesham Mashhour studies Medicine at the University of Cambridge and is our Chief Editor and Director at, “Get Real.,” He is currently the President of 1TQ – the Trinity College LGBT+ society and is also the Trinity College LGBT+ representative. He has written extensively on LGBT+ related issues for The Cambridge Student and Varsity