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High school play promotes awareness and tolerance

Justin Dielam, playing the part of Jedediah Schultz, and Kimberly Clymer, playing the part of Rebecca Hilliker, go over their lines during Monday’s rehearsal of “The Laramie Project.” - Photo by Jesse Beals
Justin Dielam, playing the part of Jedediah Schultz, and Kimberly Clymer, playing the part of Rebecca Hilliker, go over their lines during Monday’s rehearsal of “The Laramie Project.”
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Because of mature language in Olympic High School’s first play this fall, drama instructor David Clough sent the script home with the 11 cast members. They showed it to their parents. Some edited their lines, some did not.

Clough, who wears the hats of drama, English, debate and women’s studies teacher as well as drama club adviser in his fourth year at OHS, says he has always tried to challenge his students, no “frizzy” or “easy” plays.

“I like to give my students more realistic, vocational training in theater,” he said.

But “The Laramie Project,” which opens at 7 p.m. today, Dec. 7 and runs through Sat., Dec. 10, is perhaps the most risque play he has put on at the high school level, Cough said.

The play was created by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project in New York and is based on more than 200 interviews with the residents of Laramie, Wyo. in the year following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard.

In 1998 Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten and left to die tied to a fence just outside Laramie. Shepard was gay and the murder was a hate crime.

“The idea (is) there’s a voice for almost everybody at this school,” Clough said. “But there really isn’t a voice for students who are homosexual.

“(The play) is another way to bring across that message that hate is not acceptable. We just wanted to sensitize students to that.”

The play’s 11 actors, nearly half of who are entirely new to the on-stage experience, juggle some 60 characters amongst themselves, each role heavy with monologues.

Sophomore Drea Perkins is one of the first-time actors.

“People are generally very supportive but some people have been tearing down our posters,” she said. “And you get a few

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