The lights dimmed in the Center for the Arts Theater as music began to play and help set the mood for what would be a powerful and moving tale of tragedy and its aftermath in the town of Laramie, Wyoming.
The play was written by Moises Kaufman, who is the head of Tectonic Theater Project as well as by members of the same group. Kaufman is portrayed by Jonathon Guerrero, who has been in several previous productions at PCC.
“The thought of a documentary play,” Guerrero said. “I thought it was really interesting. I myself am a huge fan of documentaries, so to be a part of something like that, especially in theater, struck me as something very unique.”
Actor Austin Luciano played a major role in the play as one of Matthew Shepard’s killers, Aaron McKinney, who had a part in the events that occurred in Laramie.
“Aaron McKinney was probably the most difficult character I’ve ever had to portray on stage considering the fact that he’s a killer, and playing Aaron McKinney made me realize that playing the killer roles are the hardest to play because I can’t truly connect with that in the sense that I’ve never murdered someone,” Luciano said. “I really had to do a lot of research on the character, what his intentions were, and I had to play like I felt I was right. I had to play like I was innocent I felt, and that really portrayed on the stage.”
Director Suzanne Hunt-Jenner helped bring the play to life with a cast of 18 portraying 70 different characters in a riveting and powerful performance. The production came together in five weeks, a very short amount of time for a production like this.
“It was originally done with eight actors, and I thought it would be great to have as many actors as possible to give more students an opportunity to be on stage,” said Jenner.
Jenner said the themes addressed in the play remain relevant today.
“I felt that the school needed something that was meaningful for the students, and I think in view of all of the hate crimes that are still going on in America, especially with all the shootings in Mississippi.” Jenner said, “And it seems that this subject and theme never goes away, and it’s always important to really let the students know that this is happening in the world.”
The play will continue with 3 more showings on Oct. 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30 p.m.. There is also a 2 p.m. showing on Oct. 24.