The Laramie Project. Strawberry Theatre Workshop.
I was a freshman in college in the fall of 1998. I had the hand-me-down Mac laptop that had gotten me through high school and a narrow single room in a suite of five girls (there should have been six of us, but one never arrived). I wore my hair in a long braid down my back. I had spent the summer studying Italian, and had now moved on to Russian. I was 18 years old and 3,000 miles from home. I cried when I said goodbye to my father in Seattle and again when my mother left me in Rochester, New York with a brand-new down comforter that still covers my bed, twelve years later. These are the things I remember.
Sitting in the audience at the Strawberry Workshop's production of The Laramie Project I remembered other things, too, things I didn't remember I had known at the time. The description of the wounds on Matthew Shepard's body. The statement his father gave at the trial of one of the two young men who beat his first-born son to a bloody mess and left him tied to a fence to die. I had remembered the part about the beating and the tying to a fence but I had forgotten, or thought I had forgotten, the fractured skull, the lacerations around his head. And I wept.
The Laramie Project is an ensemble piece in the truest sense of the word, and it was seamlessly performed by the eight actors on stage, shifting between interviewers and interviewees, between past and present, memory and truth. It is the fourth production I have had the privilege to experience here at the Erickson Theatre off Broadway, the present home of Strawberry Theatre Workshop. Some of these actors I know from previous plays at other theaters, which is what I love most about Seattle and its closely-knit theater scene. Again and again I am reminded about how lucky I am to live here, to witness the closeness and creativity that we have here.
On the back of the program is this note: "How many times have you been encouraged to buy locally grown food whenever possible? By doing so you'll be helping preserve the environment, and you'll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home. The same thing is true for the arts."
I'll be coming back.