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!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Aaaaand I'm off!

I'm about to head out to the Maryville College production of The Laramie Project, and I think a few of my friends from the outreach center will be there as well. 

I'll let you know how it went sometime in the near future.  Wish me luck!

Scholarship: Social Impact of the Shepard Tragedy in Academia

If you're a literary person, you're probably like me and can't believe how few literary, scholarly articles there are actually out there on The Laramie Project.  If you widen your scope to documentary theater or work on Tectonic in general, the net gets wider, but few people in my field are tackling this play as a text or performance like any other drama.  The social and historical angles of the play, perhaps, are  taking precedent in the scholarly imagination.

On the flip side, though, that means that other disciplines are interested in Matthew Shepard and The Laramie Project as well-- and they're writing about it.  This past week I found some fun, interesting, and melancholy reflections across the disciplines.  I found doctors, psychologists, archaeologists pedagogy experts all reflecting on the tragedy and the play, and each of them sheds a little light on the social impact both Matt and Tectonic Theater had on America in the previous decade.  Here's a list and shot description of some of the most interesting I found.  Enjoy!

Blackburn, Mollie, and J. F. Buckley.  "Teaching Queer-Inclusive English Language Arts."  Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 49.3 (2005): 202-212. 

Charles, Casey.  "Panic in the Project: Critical Queer Studies and the Matthew Shepard Murder."  Law and Literature 18.2 (2006): 225-252.

Dunn, Thomas R.  "Remembering Matthew Shepard: Violence, Identity, and Queer Counterrepublic Memories."  Rhetoric and Public Affairs 13.4 (2010): 611-652. 

Hoffman, Scott W.  "'Last Night, I prayed to Matthew': Matthew Shepard, Homosexuality, and Popular Martyrdom in Contemporary America."  Religion and American Culture 21.1 (2011):121-164. 

Hurst, James C.  "The Matthew Shepard Tragedy: Management of a Crisis."  About Campus 4.3 (1999): 5-11. 

Noelle, Monique.  "The Ripple Effect of the Matthew Shepard Murder: Impact on the Assumptive Worlds of Members of the Targeted Group."  American Behavioral Scientist 46.1 (2002): 27-50.

Saewic,  E., and S. Marshall.  "Reducing Homophobia in High School: The Effects of The Laramie Project Plays and an Integrated Curriculum."  Journal of Adolescent Health 48.2 (2011): 111.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Upcoming "Projects": Maryville, TN, this weekend!

How did I not know about this sooner? 

The Laramie Project is returning to Appalachia!  A small college within driving distance of my home in Appalachia is doing a performance this weekend.  It will be a small affair, involving both college students and community members.  The director of the performance is interested in the ethics of performing real people: 

Dr. Heather McMahon, associate professor of theatre at Maryville College, said she selected the play for a variety of reasons.

“For one thing, the play is a challenge for actors, since all cast members will play a variety of roles,” McMahon said. “Each actor must differentiate the characters from one another so that the audience can see the townspeople of Laramie, Wyo., come to life. Because the play represents real people, there is an even greater responsibility to do justice to the characters.”

What makes this performance stand out to me is that Maryville College is a religiously-founded institution with Presbyterian roots, so their interpretation of events should be really interesting, I hope.  I'm really hoping I can make the trip to go see this this weekend with some of my friends.  It would make such a nice point of comparison for the Duke performance (of which I still need to talk about, I know.)

You can read up on the performance in the Knoxville News Sentinel here, or at the theater's website here

Location:  Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville, TN

when:  Thu, Oct 6 thru Sun, Oct 9, 2011
where: Haslam Family Flex Theatre
time:   8:00 PM Thurs. through Saturday, 2:00 PM Sunday

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Matthew Shepard Effect

You often hear of the positive effects of Matthew Shepard's story on other people, but not a lot of people get on YouTube to explain that in a video. A friend of mine posted this on his webpage, and so I wanted to share it with you. 

YouTube vlogger Denactor created this post to give his reactions to-- and appreciation for-- how Matthew Shepard's death impacted his own life, starting at age twelve, to a closeted teen, and now to an outspoken gay adult.  It's an interesting trajectory to see in one guy's life. 

Such are the power of stories-- even the horrible ones, like Matt's murder-- for they teach us about who we are.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Six Things My LGBTA Taught Me about the Gospel, part 1

Knox Pridefest, 2011
Just because I love this motorcycle.

This post gets kind of preach-y at other Christians.   
Proceed with the Jesus talk at your own discretion.

So: this year marks the start of my third year with the LGBTA as the random, straight evangelical who hangs out with them at meetings.  Usually, when I talk to other Christians about why I'm there, they think that I'm walking among my gay brothers and sisters from some moral high ground and I'm giving them moral instruction.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The fact is that they have taught me more about how to be a Christian than I think I ever did in my six years in the SBC.

It's not that I didn't learn a lot about God in the SBC; they supported me through my first years as a believer, and though their higher organization grieves me a lot, they still deserve some credit (or blame?) for making me who I am.  It's just that I learned more about this whole Gospel thing by walking with my gay friends than I ever did by running with the holy rollers.
 I have learned some great lessons from the wonderful people of my Appalachian chapter of the LGBTA, the outreach center on campus, and especially one specific professor, who is one of the coolest people on my campus and a good friend.  And so, let me share a few of those lessons with you.  So, if you're not of a particularly religious bent, feel free to skip this post, and I'll see you in a week or two.  Here we go!

1.  Jesus came to save the world from the religious.  So should we.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Head, meet desk. Repeat.

It seems that now is not an auspicious time for me to start TLP blogging again. A friend of mine sent me this link a little while ago, and while it's not in Appalachia, it's close enough to my home to make me queasy. So: now that it appears that pastors are using deacons as bouncers to rough up gay family members, what is the appropriate, Christian response? Anybody?

Naturally, it's a little early to know for sure what's going on, and the truth will come out in time. I just know of one pastor that needs to be booted from his church.

October's Aphorism of the Month, courtesy of Nothing Profound

So, it's October once again, and with it has come the first cold weather here in Appalachia, the changing of the leaves, and the end of our midterm cycle. 

For me, though, it's also a bittersweet month.  It makes me think of Laramie thirteen years ago.  It makes me homesick, and it makes me think of Matt.  With all this in mind, I picked this aphorism to guide the blog for this month, as always, courtesy of Aphorism of the Day

Leaves, while they live, hang together;
dying, they fall one by one.

Thanks again, Marty, for giving us something to ponder.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I'm back!

With the conclusion of my final graduate exam just a short while ago, I am officially less busy than I've been recently. 

I also passed my oral exam!  I am officially ABD (all but dissertation,) and I have been declared competent enough in my field to write 200 pages of nonsense.  Something about Anglo-Saxon geographic and spiritual identity, or something. 

The bad news is that I now have to write a dissertation proposal in the next three weeks, so I'm not out of the woods yet.  But I do have time to reconnect with you all in TLP-cyberspace and start blogging again. 

So:  in order to start my return off with a "bang," I want to highlight an important new source for research on The Laramie Project for play productions and researchers, but this time it's not a what-- rather, she's a whom.  I'd like to introduce you all to Susan Burke, who started this past summer at the Shepard Foundation as their new Laramie Project Specialist.  Here's a little blurb from her profile on the Foundation's website:
Susan attended the Graduate Acting Program at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now The Theatre School at DePaul), and has strong backgrounds in theatre, journalism and Matthew’s story. At the time of Matthew Shepard’s murder, his funeral, and the trials of his killers, she was the Executive Producer/Senior Anchor for the evening news at KTWO Television. Based in Casper, KTWO-TV was the statewide NBC affiliate, and it was Ms. Burk’s primary responsibility to arrange and implement coverage for all of these events, including community reaction and response. She produced a series on the making of The Laramie Project film that won the top news awards from both the Wyoming Associated Press and the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters that year. She is based in Casper, Wyo.
Wow: Susan is a woman of many talents who was also personally involved in Matthew Shepard's story.  Her job is to make intersect with the Laramie Project theatrical community and make your life easier.   And, plus, she's a wonder person to talk with.  She and I have communicated with each other a little bit by email and I have found her to be an engaging and upbeat person with a lot of great knowledge.  I would completely endorse her as a "must see" source for TLP for a wide range of questions. 

If you're interested, take a look here at the Shepard Foundation's website, and contact the organization for more information on the help which Susan Burke can provide. 

It's good to be back.  And it's even better to be back with a new supporter/research buddy to share the same adventure with!