Preview featuring cast members Egan Chan (19), Prabu Daveraj (21), Tiffany Ann Dass (19), Clancy Jessica Ryan (18) and co-director Natalie Wong.
So here’s what you need to know.
What is it? ‘The Laramie Project’ reconstructs the aftermath of the kidnapping, torture, and subsequent death of 21-year-old Matthew Wayne Shepard, a crime committed in a fit of homophobic hatred which shocked the sleepy town of Laramie, Wyoming to its core.
Sounds familiar… Yep, it was based on real-life events, and the script was written from over 200 interviews. The murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 forced national and international attention on homophobia and hate crime, and eventually led to the US Congress passing unprecedented hate crime legislation.
Egan Chan: “Laramie is so special in terms of that it’s a docudrama. The script is woven together through interviews, which are taken from real people in 1998 Wyoming. So it’s not like we’re playing fictitious people.
“We have to understand that those people are alive in Wyoming right now, as we speak, and they’re real living people, and we need to do them justice as well in that sense and to tell their story.”
Prabu Daveraj :”Because it’s all separate interviews and the speech of all different people, every single word we say is true to what someone has said.”
So, who’s in it? It’s the graduation show of The Young Co., a developmental programme for aspiring young actors in Singapore. They’re the youth wing of the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT).
SRT? They’re the ones that do very cheem ang moh theatre right? Erm, yes and no… They have several different divisions, which support new work by local writers (Stage 2), reach out to children and families (The Little Company) and train up aspiring young actors – The Young Co.
Why should I go see it? Because the play’s themes of homophobia and hate crime have rarely seemed more relevant. Pink Dot SG 2014 attracted record numbers (as well as very vocal opposition from religious groups), while the National Library Board’s recent decision to pulp several children’s books because they were not ‘pro-family’ has sparked furious debate.
Whatever your stance, LGBT rights in Singapore are firmly in the spotlight at the moment.
Wait, so it’s all about pushing the ‘gay agenda’? The cast members would firmly disagree!
Prabu Daveraj: “We believe that The Laramie Project will bring across values and statements that people will recognise, because the play does not promote an agenda, the play does not say that we are pro-homosexual or that we are anti-homosexual. We promote the story of Matthew Shepherd. We promote an anti-hate agenda. That’s what it is.”
Clancy Ryan: “We’re playing multiple characters, so I mean… we’re playing all these different views in one person – I’m playing a homophobic and a lesbian! And it’s great!”
But we already have stuff like Pink Dot – what’s a theatre production going to change?
Clancy Ryan: “I think that theatre in Singapore is one of the biggest platforms for social change, social commentary, I mean we all know there’s a lot of censorship in kind of like, um, TV and film and radio and stuff, but a lot more groundbreaking things have happened, through using theatre as a medium, so I think …yeah again like we’re not pushing an agenda, but it’s a platform to get people to think, and I think that’s the best kind of theatre.
“What I like about the play is that it offers lots of views, and it doesn’t say this is how you have to think about it, but this is what there is, and you can go and take away what you want to.”
DATES: 25 and 26 July 2014 – 8pm
PRICE: $25 (excluding SISTIC fee)
VENUE: DBS Arts Centre – Home of SRT
TICKETING: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or www.sistic.com.sg
Recommended for those aged 16+
We are giving away two pairs of tickets, here.