The Laramie Project Returns to Melbourne
Melbourne’s Mockingbird Theatre is staging a return season of the Green Room award-winning staging of The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and Members of The Tectonic Theatre Project.
Premiering in 2005 to a sold-out season at Chapel Off Chapel, director Chris Baldock brings the production back by popular demand, with an all-new cast portraying over 90 characters.
In 1998, a 21-year-old gay student was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. His name was Matthew Shepard. A New York Theatre company travelled to Laramie to chronicle the life of the town in the year after the murder. The result is a breathtaking collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the compassionate heights to which we can climb.
Featuring Logie nominee (Rescue Special Ops) and Underbelly star Luke McKenzie fresh from his acclaimed performance in The McNeil Project at 45Downstairs, and Adam Ward, one of the hottest actors on the Melbourne independent scene at present, having earned rave reviews in such productions as Sweet Phoebe and Hamletmachine since arriving from England last year where he appeared in London's Burning and Casualty. Joining them are the multi-talented Maggie Chretién, Tamara Donnellan, Christian Heath, Debra Low, Scott Middleton and Sarah Reubens.
Stage Whispers asked Chris Baldock what inspired him to direct The Laramie Project again.
“A couple of things. Ever since the last production, which had a sold out season and won the Green Room Award, many people have said to me that I should do it again. So when I was forming my own theatre company it seemed like a no-brainer to launch the company with it. Also Red Stitch had done their wonderful production of the sequel 10 Years Later with many of their audience having never seen the original. But most importantly, it's a play that everyone needs to see at least once in their lifetime. The story is so potent and important and its message should never be forgotten.”
Is there anything Chris has approached differently this time round?
“Actually no. The inherent structure of the previous production is exactly the same. Why change something that people loved so much last time. I have stripped the show of costume changes, props and major set pieces and again trusted the text, the story and my actors. It's a daunting prospect for actors to feel that exposed on stage and they have to have complete faith in their own abilities and, of course, in my guiding hand. It's incredibly exciting to watch from an audience viewpoint and heightens the theatricality of the piece in watching actors transform into a multitude of characters with nothing but their talent and craft. I am lucky in that I have an incredible cast who are stunning to watch. We all took a huge leap of faith together and it has paid off immensely. I am sure audiences will be blown away by them. I've been lucky enough to have some of the best talent in Melbourne, picked from over 150 people who originally applied to audition. I was looking for a special honesty in the performance and I got it in spades with this cast.”
And the production is again being staged at Chapel Off Chapel.
In the intimate confines of The Loft at Chapel Off Chapel. It's where I did it last time and it works beautifully - 150 seats in a theatre hub that has embraced and supported us immensely. The staff are excited about its return as it created such a strong reaction last time round. The play seems a perfect fit for the venue and the discerning patrons it attracts.”
What's next for Mockingbird?
“We're excited that our follow up production has just been announced. Enda Walsh's incredible one man play Misterman. I'm directing Adam Ward, who is in The Laramie Project, in a tour-de-force role that is going to knock people's socks off. That's coming in February and will be preceding an amazing year that we have lined up. We also have been asked to take Laramie to regional Victoria, which is very exciting and we're in the process of planning as we speak.”
THE LOFT, CHAPEL OFF CHAPEL, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
26 OCTOBER – 11 NOVEMBER. TUESDAYS – SATURDAYS: 8:00PM. SUNDAYS: 6:00PM. MATINEES: SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER & 3 NOVEMBER: 1:00PM
* no performance Tuesday 29th performance due to The Melbourne Cup
BOOKINGS: WWW.CHAPELOFFCHAPEL.COM.AU / 03 8290 7000
We have ten double passes to give away to the 1pm performance on Saturday October 27.
Enter by sending us a message via our contact form - http://www.stagewhispers.com.au/contact and type Yhe Laramie Project in the subject field.
In the message form, name the Logie nominated actor who appears in The Laramie Project.
First ten correct entries win.