COF to stage
By ADAM TANOUS
Express Arts Editor
Company of Fools, the Hailey-based theater
group, will stage one of the most thought provoking plays in contemporary
theater today: "The Laramie Project." It is a production made possible by the
Blaine County Teen Advisory Council and St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
The play opens Wednesday, April 23, and
runs through Sunday, May 11, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Denise Simone and John Glenn are directing
the drama by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project in
Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old, gay
student at the University of Wyoming. In October 1998 he was kidnapped, beaten
and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. The hate
crime quickly attracted national attention.
Over the course of 18 months, Kaufman and
members of his theater group made six trips to Laramie to interview over 200
people in the small town. Kaufman created a play out of the interviews. There
are 62 characters in the play that Simone described as a "montage of voices."
For the first time since 1999, COF held
open auditions for the production, and over 40 people auditioned for the 10
roles. Many will play multiple roles. The cast comprises Lisa Beth Fox, John
Glenn, Nick Green, Douglas Hanks, Renee Knappenberger, Christine Leslie, Noah
Levin, Michelle Nelson, Jennifer Jacoby Rush and Richard Rush.
One of the elements of the production that
Simone is most excited about is the active involvement of students through the
BCTAC. The kids decided not only to contribute financially to the production but
are involved in other ways too. They will create an interactive site in the
theater’s lobby where the audience will be encouraged to write down their
thoughts. The students are also creating an area for recording video clips.
Simone said the students from BCTAC have become a sort of "think tank (for the
production). They are helping us find ways to reach the kids in the schools." To
that end, COF is offering four student matinees during the run of the show. They
will also continue their Fools Unplugged performances in which a discussion is
held after the show with the audience and cast members.
As to why COF has chosen to stage a
sometimes controversial play, Simone said: "In times like these, we need to come
together as a community, to share our stories and points of view … the only way
to come together is to hear every voice."