Bates will present powerful, provocative ‘Laramie Project’

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LEWISTON — Seeking to spark constructive dialogue on campus and in the community, a student theater group at Bates College will present Moises Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-12.

Performances by the Robinson Players will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday in Gannett Theater, Pettigrew Hall, 305 College St.

Tickets, $5, will be available at the door. Proceeds will go to Outright L/A, a Lewiston-Auburn organization supporting LGBTQ youth in a safe and affirming environment.

A 4 p.m. panel discussion will follow the Sunday performance. On the panel will be members of the production; Heather Lindkvist, director of the diversity in excellence leadership team at Bates; and members of OUTfront, an LGBTQ advocacy group on campus. Refreshments will be served.

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The play captures the voices of residents of Laramie, Wyo., following the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was gay.

Immediately following the murder, members of the New York City-based Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie, seeking “the story of the people of Laramie in their own words,” according to the troupe’s website.

Led by Tectonic artistic director Kaufman, they returned repeatedly over the next two years to collect interviews. The result is a script comprising 40 haunting and authentic narratives structured as a series of “moments” supported by monologues.

“The play doesn’t make any argument at all,” said co-director senior Michelle Schloss of Unionville, Conn. “It focuses on the community and asks: Why did this happen here? It shows all the different viewpoints and lets those sink in.”

“You get all of these very intense issues presented at once in a way that’s compelling because they come from real people,” said junior Spencer Collet of Leawood, Kan. “If it does anything, ‘The Laramie Project’ celebrates our differences no matter what they are. We are not making any definitive judgment — apart from, hate is wrong. “

Fairly and effectively dramatizing these differences has tested the Robinson Players. “The biggest challenge, Collet said, “is to present it so that people don’t come away saying, ‘Those people there must be terrible.’ All groups portrayed in this show are given an equal say.”

“Every opinion, whether or not people here agree with it, is valid and real,” Schloss added.

For more information, email mschloss@bates.edu.

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