The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








The Saint Anselm students playing members of the Tectonic Theater Project in The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. Courtesy photo.

See The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later

Where: Dana Center for the Humanities, Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester
When: Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Talk-back: The Core Council — an organization involving students and faculty allied with or members of the LGBT community — will lead a dialogue with actors and audience members after the opening Nov. 3.
Tickets: $14
Contact:, 641-7700,

Learn from history
Abbey Players put on The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later

By Kelly Sennott

 What happens to a community after the nation forgets its tragedy? 

Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project address this question in The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, which makes its New Hampshire premiere with a production by the Anselmian Abbey Players Nov. 3 through Nov. 5 at the Dana Center for the Humanities.
The play was first performed in 2009 and looks at Laramie, Wyoming, 10 years after the murder of a gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard. The original play — The Laramie Project, produced in 2000 — drew on hundreds of interviews conducted by the Tectonic Theater Project, with text taken directly from Laramie residents, company members’ journal entries and published news reports. This one does the same.
There are a few reasons Saint Anselm College’s playreading committee chose this production. One was that the students produced The Laramie Project in 2012, which had a “huge impact” on the school community, English professor and Anselmian Abbey Players Director Landis Magnuson said. It was the fourth most-attended fall play in almost 30 years at the college, having sold close to 800 tickets over three nights.
A few cast members said during a recent rehearsal they also like that the message is so relatable. It’s a story that transcends time and communities.
“We have grown up in an era where there have been a lot of tragedies, from 9/11 to Sandy Hook to Orlando. It’s always in your face for about five minutes — and then it just seems to go away, and everybody moves on with their lives,” said Kelsey Warner, who, along with 11 other actors, will perform in more than 60 different roles this weekend. “One recurring theme is that there’s a constant move to get a hate crime legislation passed. … Matthew’s mother has a line where she says, ‘Ten years have changed. No progress.’ … A lot of times, when something terrible has happened, we say of course we’re going to do something about it. But it’s literally been a decade.”
Another recurring theme is the label “hate crime,” thanks to a 20/20 news story reporting Shepard’s murder was driven by drugs.
“Even with the Orlando shooting, we heard a lot of people, at least in my hometown, who were talking about it and saying it wasn’t because they were gay — it just happened to be a gay club,” Warner said. “People immediately started finding other reasons. And I had that in the back of my mind while reading the show.”
But mostly, people in Laramie just want to move on and forget what happened.
“I found the script to be very moving. For a lot of communities, when something bad happens, they really do try to sweep it under the rug,” said Jake Miller, who’s very familiar with the repercussions of a town tragedy; the sophomore is from Milford, Conn., and went to school with Maren Sanchez, who was murdered on her prom day in 2014. “Two years later, all the faculty, staff and adult members of my town are just trying to forget about it.”
In the Saint Anselm show, actors will wear casual, plain clothes, switching characters with the addition of a prop or costume piece and a sharp change in voice and mannerisms. Sets are minimal, but the multimedia projections are “over the top,” said Magnuson, with designs by Saint Anselm alum Carey and Matthew Cahoon. Four screens will hang upstage and display more than 100 clips and stills to help tell the story.
The true power in the play, said actor and student Garrett Meyer, is when you remember these are words from real people who are talking about real events.
“For me personally, one of the biggest messages I want to get across is, not only is it OK to look back at bad events that have happened in a community, but you should, because that’s the only way you can learn and grow together,” Meyer said. 

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