The cast had to scramble to find a place to premiere the show after school Principal Emilio Urioste felt the material was too controversial, student Adrian Butler said.
The play, written in 2000 by the Tectonic Theater Project, focuses on the reaction to the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998.
The show’s characters and script are based on interviews with townspeople from Laramie, Wyo., that playwright Moises Kaufman and other theater members conducted.
“I feel it’s censorship and it’s repressive,” said Butler, a drama club member who has been significantly involved in getting the show produced. “Homophobia is something we deal with on a regular basis, and a show like this educates people how everyone deserves the same rights as everyone else.
Urioste reopened the school three weeks ago for students to rehearse. He did so to show a newfound support for the production.
“Life is about learning, and I think that certainly for me this was a moment to reflect and be touched by these talented kids,” he said. “I have been moved by the students’ passion for this project.”
Urioste is attending Friday night’s performance and plans to host a second production of the play next year, he said.
Students received an overwhelming amount of local and national support to put on the show.
The school’s Gay Straight Alliance won a $500 California Teachers Assistant Grant and the chance to perform in the Colony’s 246-seat theater free of charge.
Even five people from the Tectonic Theatre Company flew in this past week to help the performers, including head writer Leigh Fondakowski, the play’s co-director, Jeff Freeman, said.