For today’s class, you were asked to read (as much as possible) The Laramie Project.

Documentary Theatre: Process vs. Product

Key Terms & Concepts

  • product (what was created) vs. process (how it was created)
  • documentary theatre; docudrama; verbatim theatre
  • antecedents: Problem Plays and  The Living Newspaper
  • reading experience vs. audience experience
  • live theatre experience vs. television/film experience
  • theatricalism; emotional distancing; Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt

The Laramie Project

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Tectonic Theatre’s Production of The Laramie Project

Basic Facts

Matthew Shepard was born in Wyoming on December 1, 1976, to Judy and Dennis Shepard. In 1998, two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, abducted Shepard and drove him to a remote area where he was tied to a split-rail fence, beaten severely, and left to die in the cold of the night. Shepard died just a few days later on October 12, 1998 at the age of 21. His brutal and gruesome death has become one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history and eventually led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009)   SOURCE

Resources

ABC News: VIDEO

Tectonic Theatre Project   WEBSITE

Study Guide: BAM Laramie Project Study Guide

The Laramie Project at Zach Theatre (Austin, Texas)

The Film Version

Small Group Discussion

Respond to selections from this article about the 2013 university production of The Laramie Project, particularly addressing the quote by cast member beginning with,

“The audience was mocking the portions of the play that revolve around hatred and serious subject matters.”


Fires in the Mirror

Basic Facts

August 1991. Crown Heights Brooklyn. A car in a rabbi’s motorcade goes out of control and kills a Black boy. In retaliation, a Jewish student is slain by Blacks. Riots and upheaval shake both communities, and New York itself. Anna Deavere Smith’s Fires in the Mirror explores race, identity and the aftermath of the Crown Heights tragedies in a unique theatrical way. Smith’s play presents over two dozen people, real people, whom she interviewed about the Crown Heights events. These “characters” speak directly to us in their own words, creating a raw, multi-faceted portrait of what it means to live in a diverse, polarized urban America.   SOURCE

Resources

Script: Fires in the Mirror (First Half of Play)

Fires on PBS

Anna Deveare Smith Projects   WEBSITE

Ted Talk: “Four American Characters”

 


Homework

For our next class “Shamans,” please read Act I (or more) of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.

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