The Laramie Project: A Teen’s Critique

by Manan, Grade 9


In my recent attendance of "The Laramie Project," I viewed the thought-provoking theatrical production on March 7th 2024.

As an audience member attending "The Laramie Project," I had a mixed experience with the production. My expectations were moderately high, given the gravity of the subject matter. However, the performance had its ups and downs that influenced my overall perception of it.

The Laramie Project

The production excelled in several aspects. The lighting design, in particular, was super effective. The use of a grid-ish pattern of lights on the ceiling created a visually captivating effect, making the characters in focus appear brighter while those in the periphery remained in the shadows. This technique added depth and dimension to the storytelling, drawing my attention where it was needed. The simple landscaping (constant throughout and subtle slope) and props also contributed to the authenticity of the setting, which was essential for a play that revolves around the real-life events in Laramie, Wyoming.

On the other hand, the production had moments where it fell short. The same people were playing different characters which sort of muddled my perspective, as it became challenging to differentiate characters and their roles. Some scenes felt somewhat staged, which detracted from the overall authenticity. The play also suffered from pacing issues, with certain long dialogues that seemed to drag on, testing our patience.

On the day I watched the play, the audience seemed quite stiff. I was sitting near the middle row on the right side. During certain moments that were supposed to be funny (but I didn’t understand most of them), the audience did not laugh much. I think the directors, who were sitting behind me, were trying to lighten the mood by laughing at moments. This may have just been at my showing day.

During the performance, I was pleasantly surprised that there were few neighboring audience members who talked or used cellular phones, which did affect my immersion in the play- I was way more focused. Also, the temperature in the auditorium was comfortable.

The artistic goals probably revolved around delivering a powerful and thought-provoking portrayal of the tragic events in Laramie while raising awareness about issues related to hate crimes, discrimination, and LGBTQ+ rights.

The actors displayed differing skill levels, with some performers standing out due to them being in a higher grade level. However, I could tell all actors were prepared and there was no obvious lapse in line memorization or mess-ups.

Noticeable Elements:

  1. Costume and Make-up Design and Execution: The costume and make-up design for Laramie Project was a key factor in portraying the characters very authentically. The execution, in most cases, was well done, with costumes that reflected the time and place accurately. I couldn't notice the makeup, and isn’t sure of the role it brings.
  2. Set Design and Execution: The set design was simple yet effective, creating a versatile backdrop for the various scenes. The execution of the set, with its minimalistic landscaping (gentle slopes and generalistic backdrop).
  3. Props Design and Execution: The simplicity of the props design in "The Laramie Project" worked to the production's advantage. The execution of the props was generally well-handled, with objects seamlessly integrated into the scenes. However, there were a few instances where props felt slightly awkward to handle, leading to minor distractions.
  4. Light Design and Execution: The lighting design was one of the standout technical elements of the production. The grid pattern of lights, as mentioned earlier, created a super visually striking effect, contributing significantly to the overall atmosphere and emotional resonance of the play.
  5. Sound Design and Execution: The sound design was competent and supported the narrative effectively. I didn’t particularly notice it, which is  testament to how non un-focusing the sound was.

All in all, this play was very eye-opening for me. I could empathize with the characters. In my 5th grade, I participated in my school’s annual musical as one of the main characters. Our lighting and props were very similar. In this play, the topics explored were very mature, but they were communicated clearly.