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For the week of April 2 - 8, 2003

Arts and Entertainment

COF to stage
‘Laramie Project’

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 Philadelphia.

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."


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.