Calling all Theater companies and performers!

Open Call to Theater companies, performers, researchers:
I would like to hear other voices besides my own on this blog. If you'd like to write about your TLP experiences here, e-mail them to me and I'll put them up.
Topics can include dramaturgy to staging to personal responses to the play. Anything goes!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Laramie in Pictures: Campus Scenes

The campus has changed a lot since I was a naive little undergraduate here.  For one, we now have a "Cheney International Center" (no freaking kidding) and a new Anthropology building.  I was saddened to find the old Honors house razed to the ground and an OIT center plunked in its place.  (It was just as well, to be honest.)  Somebody finally got wise and also ripped down a good chunk of Coe Library and turned it into a usable library space complete with coffee shop and up-to-date computer lab.  And, most noticeably, they have put what must have been an incredible chunk of money into campus beautification, fuzzing out the hard edges of the concrete public spaces with small gardens full of boulders and birch trees, landscaped with native flowers.  I always thought this was a beautiful campus, but now it might be one of the most charming college campuses in the western US.  I'm serious. 

But the important things-- to me at least-- haven't changed much at all.  The sandstone walls of the buildings still glow like gold when the sun is at the right angle, Prexy's pasture is still the same, and the squirrels still cuss and throw things at you when you walk between Merica Hall and Old Main.  The Fine Arts building still looks like it's built out of cardboard graham crackers, sagging a little around the edges.  Although I didn't see him out there this summer, I was reassured that Dr. Shive in the Honors Program still roams the green spaces, plunking down birdies on the ad-hoc Frisbee golf course with deadly accuracy despite his advancing years. 

So, here are a few pictures of some of the places that most define the Laramie campus: Old Main, the original campus building from the territorial days, Arts and Sciences, and even some of that fancy new landscaping that blurs the distinction between public and natural space in ways that I think I rather like.  Enjoy!  

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

Coe Library, University of Wyoming

University of WyomingUniversity of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

Alumni HouseUniversity of Wyoming

Monday, September 20, 2010

Class Lines on the Font Lines: the 1998 Reporting, part 1

So, the reason I was so interested in chatting with Coyote about West Laramie that Friday when we walked along the green belt was because of what I had read in some back issues of the Laramie Boomerang from 1998.  I was surprised to find an AP article on the class divide in Laramie dated just a week after Matthew Shepard died.  The article was put out by a couple of AP staff writers and a Cheyenne reporter, and the Boomerang ran it to show how the drama was being reported in the national media coverage.
The piece was over-the-top, honestly, and laughably inaccurate as it overplayed the common tropes of class struggle.  According to the AP, upper-class Wyoming families are all close and loving (never mind that Shepard's father spent most of his childhood working on a different continent) and all lower-class families are virtual time bombs for criminal behavior (never mind that Henderson, not Shepard, was the Eagle scout).  West Laramie, apparently, is the complete opposite of east Laramie, according to the AP, and west Laramie is therefore a crime-ridden, poverty-strapped sewage pit.  And when West Laramie residents read this article back in 1998, some of them actually (and quite understandably) flipped out.

But, what really fascinated me was the way in which the AP reporters picked up on a narrative that, to be honest, has always resonated with me, but I was never really sure if that narrative was just part of my personal relationship to Laramie (because my family splits that same class divide) or if it was a larger narrative being played out in the community.  As it turns out, I wasn't making it up.  That narrative of class and privilege was one that was floating around even while the narrative of LGBT intolerance was being passed around, too.  I'd like to share a little of this article with you, and the Laramie reactions, to show you how that east-west Laramie split, still felt by my brother Coyote today, was making waves in Laramie back in 1998... 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Every once in a while, I get a reminder that perhaps I'm being just a little too dour on the state of the world and that I need to look on the positive side of life.  After my pessimistic reaction to the Park51 debate last week, I needed just such a reminder.  This was it:

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10

Isn't this the cutest act of social justice you've ever seen?  This adorable little goodwill ambassador came with her mama to spread some love and religious tolerance on my campus Appalachia on September 10th, and she came with friends.  A large and surprisingly disparate group of organizations on campus-- from Amnesty International to a local sorority, and all shades in between-- all came together to spread a little love and kindness as a more positive response to the current religious climate surrounding Islam and the ninth anniversary of September 11th.  College students, ministers, professors and their children stood on our pedestrian walkway handing out yellow balloons, candy, and smiles as the student populace walked past.  Certainly, the timing of Sept. 11th and the creepy Florida preacher with his Koran-burning intentions was on everyone's mind as they planned this, but they wanted to do this as a positive gesture in itself, not necessitated by the negative press coming from the news outlets.  They wanted to spread a little love because it was needed, not just out of counter-protest. 

I am also so proud to say that I had absolutely nothing to do with this.  I got a call from my minister friend about a half an hour before my Writing Center shift at the college on Thursday, and he wanted to know if I could bring the signs I had made for the fundamentalist preacher (and the neo-nazi rally) which I did.  I also stuck around to hold a sign for a bit and take a few pics.

I think this is a great sign of a climate change on my campus.  For a long time, people have been dissatisfied with some of the hate speech and intolerance that blows through our midst, but many (and the Christian community especially) haven't felt like they could speak up.  That's starting to change.  Even better, they're not speaking back so much as speaking out.  They have a positive message to share, and they're getting bold enough to speak it without necessarily having to do so defensively.  You have no idea how encouraged that makes me feel.  

So, without further ado, here are some photos of that small gesture of love and empathy that gave me a little faith in humankind even while religious politics gets nasty everywhere else.  Thanks so much!

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10
The balloons were a big hit for some reason.  I saw them tied up all over campus later. 

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10
In case you can't tell, they're all sisters-- and awesomely precocious young ladies. 

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10UT Peace Party, 9/10/10
The event got some really good local media coverage, too. That's my minister friend in the left-hand picture holding the balloons.

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10
A good friend of mine, studying here from Botswana.

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10UT Peace Party, 9/10/10
Two of our organizers...

And these were my absolute favorite shots of the day:
UT Peace Party, 9/10/10

UT Peace Party, 9/10/10

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shameless plug for RBU...

I have been known, in my spare time, to write a little poetry-- whether or not it's good poetry I'll leave up to the experts, but I do write poetry nonetheless.

If you're interested in seeing what I can do with two idle hands and a wandering imagination, I have a poem right now posted on Real Bloggers United: The Blog. It's a fun little piece about-- you guessed it-- Laramie.  Sort of.  It's more about a picture I saw once in a UW yearbook. 

Actually, this month's postings, thus far, promise to be quite interesting.  Glen of Glen's Life has a great post up about camping misadventures, and with a "blogger's choice" topic for the month, the postings should be quite entertaining.  Check it out!  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Laramie in Pictures: By Night

Most of my memories of Laramie are by night.  Evenings were the only time I had to get off campus most days, so the landscape I most commonly knew as an undergraduate was one lit by the streetlight rather than the sun.  The town has a completely different character under the moonlight, and one that, I have to admit, I rather fancy.  So, on July 3rd this year, I was wandering around downtown Laramie, Wyoming with a camera and a tripod taking night pictures of the city.  

I know these streets look completely deserted for a Saturday night, but you have to understand Laramie culture (and its climate) to realize how busy things actually were. I was walking around town in a thick hoodie and a coat, and I was still shivering because it dropped down into the fifties that night; if you're smart, you were indoors.  Late at night, the streets are deserted because all of the bars are packed; the next morning when I took pictures, the streets were deserted because all the churches were full. It's an interesting little social comment on Laramie culture.  Enjoy! 

Laramie By Night

Laramie By Night

Laramie By Night

Laramie By Night

Laramie Night Skies

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Coyote's Tour of West Laramie

The Catwalk, Laramie, Wyoming
One evening while I was in Laramie, I meet Coyote for dinner, and he walks me over the catwalk towards his home.  He wants to show me West Laramie's green belt project, a paved walkway following the river on the south end.  He wanted me to see how pretty it all is in the sunset, he said, and maybe we can get some pictures with my camera.  (It was beautiful, too.  It's a shame the light didn't hold.)  Maybe we'd see some badgers down by the southern loop, he adds.  They live near the prairie dog town where the pickings are easy.  Sometimes he comes down there to just sit and watch, to see if he can catch a glimpse of their stripey heads poking out of their dens. 

As we stroll down South Pine and pass through other streets on the way to the green belt, he points out the houses of people he knows who live there: police officers, professors, health professionals.  We turn a corner and pass by one small, well-kept house with picket signs for both candidates in the current election for sheriff, which makes no sense until we see the current Sheriff's cruiser parked in the driveway.  We both laugh; local politics can be funny that way.  He also points out a beautiful old church just beyond the tracks in the other direction, with a white steeple glowing in the dusky light.  He tells me it's the second-oldest church in Laramie-- "and it's in West Laramie," he adds with a touch of pride. 

Churches of LaramieAnd it occurs to me, as I listen to Coyote talk animatedly about his neighborhood, that if I ignore the university, West Laramie doesn't look any different to me than the rest of the town.  In the sunset I see the same wide paved streets on East Garfield as West Garfield, arched by the same massive, shaggy cottonwood trees; they have the same small, older houses on either side.  If the railroad tracks weren't there to aid the imagination, in all truth, the difference between the two sides would be difficult to discern, and the only real details I can see between East and West are the tall, Victorian mansionettes on the east side, the cookie-cutter subdivisions north of campus, and a few old, tattered storefronts converted to residences in West Laramie.  Even West Laramie's trucking district near the I-80 exit has its equivalent on the other side of town, and the east has its own ramshackle, gentrified houses with absentee landlords just two blocks away from the university.  If this little district weren't living in the shadow of its more cosmopolitan neighbor, West Laramie could be any small town in Wyoming which has changed its appearance with shifting fortunes: Afton, Pinedale, Saratoga, Shoshoni.

"For most of the people who live here, it's not about being rich or poor," Coyote explains.  "It's about choosing where you want to live.  For a lot of people, West Laramie is convenient, or it's quieter, or they don't want to live anywhere near the campus.  Hell, my landlord works on campus, and he lives out here," he adds with a grin.  

West Laramie
For someone barely scraping by and renting an apartment he once described as a " convenient rat-hole," Coyote speaks quite defensively for West Laramie.  He speaks of this place as home.  They have the green belt, he points out, and some of the best and most underused parks in the city.  "Come on-- what can be better than a place called 'Optimist Park?'" He quips.  He grins in the darkness. 

But it's the defensiveness in his voice that interests me at the moment.  "So, do you get the sense there's still a stigma to living in West Laramie?"  I ask him. He scowls at me in the growing darkness. 

"But it isn't true," he says.