Friday, June 18, 2010

Impressions after seeing The Laramie Project here in Tyler

This is not going to be a formal review. I can leave that to the professional reviewers out there. This is more for me to share with my three readers some of my impressions and response to the play that I saw last night. If you want the nutshell, the answer is yes: you should go see this play. If you are in the area, you can still catch it tonight or tomorrow night. Get ticket information at the Tyler Civic Theater (link to their website). Finally, inf interested, you can read my thoughts prior to the performance and a small review of the play here. So, here we go.

Yes, the play was excellent. Yes, the performance was stellar and very moving. I could say that and more, but in the end I want to say that this play is about people in any town and their responses to anyone who is an "Other" or different in some way. It is a play that this town really needs to see and then discuss. Because this play is about compassion, or the lack thereof. It is about what we teach our children, or what more often than not many fail to teach their children. Being a parent, with my teen child in attendance, that last point resonated with me. As we were heading home after the play and talking about it, that was one of the things we told our daughter, "this is why we take you to see things like this, so you learn." She gets it, and she noticed that she likely was the youngest person in that audience last night. Maybe the label that the play is suggested for "mature audiences" kept some people from bringing their teens in. Yes, we do have to say this is not a play to bring your children to; they will likely not get it. But it is a play that young people in their teens, especially in high school, should see and talk about lest they fail to learn key lessons on humanity and compassion and tolerance and, well, I could go on and on. I have to thank the cast and crew not only for their great work, but for giving me something to share with my daughter.

If you pay attention and watch closely, odds are good you will recognize members or types from your town in the play. I know as I sat there that I could identify at least one person I know personally. Don't worry, I am not revealing who it is is here (but I did make a note of who it was in my personal journal, where I wrote a draft of what I am posting here. Yes, there are some things I write in my journal I do not put on the blog. My three readers already know that). I am sure others who watch will see either someone they know or maybe themselves.

As one of the actors, during the introduction before the play started, reminded us, theater has the power to show us the truth. This play with these excellent actors, who are members of our community, bring truth to life so the rest of us can learn, think, reflect, and then share and discuss with each other.

The small space in the civic theater is intimate; it is set up in a square with the stage in the center and the audience surrounds the stage. It is perfect for this fast paced play. The actors who become the people of Laramie bring to life the responses, feelings, hopes, and even the darker elements of that community. We are transported to Laramie, and yet, in such small intimate space, as we are immersed in the experience, we come to see our town, our people, ourselves. The actors bring us to life and make us look at ourselves proving the universality of the experiences and lives of those folks in Laramie. Therein lies the power of the play and the extraordinary ability of the cast, who play multiple roles per person, to make us feel that we are there but also to make us honestly ask if that could be us.

I know I have been moved, and I have been made to reflect. These are good things for we learn and grow from our experiences and reflections. This is a play that everyone needs to see, and we are fortunate that we have such a good cast and crew bring it to life in our community.

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