Acme Theater Company in Davis is presenting "The Laramie Project", a theatrical presentation of the reactions of Laramie, Wyoming residents to the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who hailed originally from out-of-town. The various interviews give local color to the show, but the real punch of the show is towards the end, as people gather for the funeral, when the vicious denunciations of the gay lifestyle by a hellfire-and-brimstone street preacher are met with determined street theater: lesbian 'angels', of all things. The show was really well done (remarkable, given the late hour of the performance I saw: 11 p.m. - 1:35 a.m., and the discomfort surrounding my fall, previously mentioned in this blog).
Several friends were in the show: Julia Robinson, who played (among other characters) the emergency room doctor who attended both the victim and one of the perpetrators (unknowingly, at the same time, in separate rooms); Jocelyn Price (under-used in this show because of rehearsal conflicts); James Henderson, who played the mountain biker who found the gravely-wounded Shephard; and Ian Rothman who helped tie the show together as quasi-narrator.
Interestingly enough, I found the show brought back warm memories. I once spent a weekend in the Snowy Range outside Laramie, doing snow experiments, and I once interviewed for a position at the University of Wyoming. The Snowy Range was mentioned several times in the show, and the motel I stayed at, the University Inn, was also mentioned.
After the show, I talked to Jocelyn Price, and mentioned an incident that once happened to me on the streets of Phoenix, when I was nearly gay-bashed. Instantly, waves of empathy, concern, caution, reserve, and sympathy crossed Jocelyn's face, like brilliant hues on an artist's palette (she is SUCH a wonderful and expressive actress!) I was surprised by her reaction, and then I realized she MAY have thought I might be "coming out" at that instant! No, no, no, I'm not gay, but you don't have to be gay to be gay-bashed!
On the night in question, in 1982, I was attending a ballroom dance convention in Phoenix at a hotel on North Central, when I decided to take a break and walk on the sidewalk outside. I was a graduate student at the University of Arizona at the time, and didn't have much money for newer clothes, so I was wearing old skin-tight 70's-era Angel Flight bell-bottom slacks. I'm certain, to some people, I looked gay enough. On the sidewalk, teenagers passing by in jeeps menaced me with words. I'm certain they would have followed up with deeds, except North Central is one of the busiest streets in the entire city of Phoenix, even at 10 p.m., when I was out there. So, I never faced Matthew Shepard's fate, but I felt the menace nevertheless.
The show finishes this weekend. See it if you can!