By Alex Cornacchia, Contributing Writer
Westborough – There’s never just one way to tell a story.
Westborough High School’s (WHS) Center Stage Theater Company will be performing “The Laramie Project Cycle” Friday, Nov. 7, Saturday, Nov. 8 and Sunday, Nov. 9. Written by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project, the cycle comprises two separate but related plays: “The Laramie Project” and “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.”
Some may be familiar with “The Laramie Project,” which revolves around the true story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man who was murdered in Laramie, Wyo. in 1998. “10 Years Later” is the epilogue to “The Laramie Project”; it deals with the ways the community of Laramie continues to process the tragedy and repercussions of Shepard’s murder a decade later.
“It’ll be a chance to see a show that’s really brand new for a lot of people,” WHS Drama Director Anne Slotnick said of “10 Years Later”.
Though the plays work as stand-alone shows, Slotnick encourages people to see both.
“I think they are made better by seeing the other one,” she said.
The plays – based on news reports, interviews with residents of Laramie and journal entries from members of the Tectonic Theater Project – are told as a series of moments rather than acts and scenes. There are a combined total of 104 characters, played by 24 cast members in Center Stage’s production.
“My costumers have a big feat in terms of getting 104 pieces to represent each character,” remarked Slotnick.
The abundance of characters also allows for different versions of Matthew Shepard’s tale to emerge, illustrating how a story can change depending on who tells it.
“It doesn’t restrict itself to a single portrayal of the event,” explained senior Josh Hyde, a cast member.
One particularly special feature of Center Stage’s Laramie Project Cycle is the original music composed by juniors Chris LaMountain and Julia Marcus. When Slotnick announced at the beginning of the year that she wanted the plays to be set to music, Marcus and LaMountain jumped at the chance.
“It was an irresistible opportunity,” recalled LaMountain.
Many people working on the show are quick to point out that although the plays center on the story of Matthew Shepard, they are really about a much bigger idea: how a community goes about rediscovering its identity after a traumatic event. Even if audience members don’t have a personal connection to Shepard’s story, the larger themes make the plays something anyone can relate to.
Slotnick said she is proud of the work that students have put into the shows.
“They’re doing a really incredible job with it. It’s a mature production, and they have certainly more than risen to the occasion,” she noted.
The students are also eager to share the plays with the community.
“This is an amazing story, and I can’t wait to have people see it,” junior Carly Lurier, a cast member said.
Performances of “The Laramie Project” take place on Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. Performances of “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” take place on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. All performances are in the WHS auditorium, 90 West Main St. Tickets are general admission, $10 for students and $12 for adults. For those interested, there will be a “talk-back” held on Nov. 8 at 4:30 p.m. at the Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant, 32 Lyman St., Westborough, after the 2 p.m. show. For more information, contact [email protected].