By: Tatum Hunter
Director of Theatre Stephen Skiles is not looking to make a statement. He is, however, looking to give five students the freedom to create a statement on their own.
The Xavier Newswire sat down with Skiles to talk about the upcoming production of The Laramie Project that his Acting II class will be putting on at the end of the semester.
The Laramie Project is a play written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project and is based on a series of interviews the group conducted with citizens of Laramie, Wyo. in the months following the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard.
“It’s a ‘heart play’ that deals with the feelings that surface in the wake of such an act of hatred,” Skiles said.
The five Acting II students decided together to perform this show and each will be charged with the challenging task of portraying up to seven characters.
Skiles’ main hope for the show is that the process of selecting a piece, working with a director, developing characters and performing in front of an audience will help the students grow as actors. Aside from giving students the opportunity to improve as performers, Skiles believes this production is deeply relevant to the entire Xavier community.
Fourteen years after Matthew Shepard’s murder, we still see hatred and misunderstanding surrounding the subject of homosexuality. Skiles expects the production to spark honest discussion and heightened understanding among audience members, although he hopes that one day our culture will be one of ac-acceptance and the play will no longer be relevant.
When asked if he’s bringing anything new to the table in this interpretation of The Laramie Project, Skiles said, “I’m bringing very little to the table. What I hope I’m bringing is freedom.”
Through this production, five Xavier students are given the freedom to tell a story the way they think it should be told, and the Xavier community is given the freedom to take an honest look at an issue that touches all of our lives in one way or another.
The Laramie Project will be showing at 7 p.m. on April 30 in the Gallagher Student Center Studio Theatre.