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  Live Theater Rules

20 June 2001

12:09 AM: Oh my god. Just back from seeing The Laramie Project at Berkeley Rep. What a hell of a play - or performance piece, or docuplaylet, or whatever you want to call it. Unbelievable. Or, actually, way too believable. I heard so many echoes of my family in some of the voices of the people of Laramie.

What it is, is these New York theater people, several of whom were gay (if not all), went to Laramie, Wyoming six times over the course of the Matthew Shepard killing hoorah, conducting about 200 interviews and keeping journals. The performance is a dramatization of those interviews, journals, and other public texts, like Matthew's father's statement in the courtroom about whether or not to seek the death penalty for one of his murderers. I didn't know what to expect at all - I had thought I had read somewhere that they didn't even mention Shepard's name, which didn't make sense. That's way not true, the whole piece is about people's reactions to the killing, their opinions about homosexuality and God and Wyoming and the media, and most of all, each other.

I can't remember the last time I saw anything so moving. When they take you to the fence, and talk about finding him there... My God. I think it's probably impossible not to cry. The only people who are stereotypes make themselves that way - Rev. Whatsisfuck Phelps, for instance, the "God Hates Christians" guy. Er, no, his sign says something else. "God Hates Smokers", that's it. (I'm not trying to be elliptical, I just don't want to put that phrase on this page for search engines...)

They're making a version for HBO, apparently, and I'm sure it'll be quite moving there. But I can't see it being anything like seeing these people live out the thoughts and feelings live, right there on the stage. That's what really pushes it past all considerations of ideology or agitprop or any of the other faults you might imagine - these are people, real people. At one point, one of the residents of the town talks about how they've become a noun now, like Waco - that they'll always be known just for this brutal crime. I think this work goes a long way towards changing that.

Otherwise, first of my Wednesdays off Today, yay! I celebrated in logical fashion, by getting up even earlier than usual to do secret cabal work, on 3 hours of sleep. Now I am full of Indian food, thanks Ms. V, and my brain says "Huh?"

Willfully blind self-indulgent nebbish or amusingly quirky old coot? And how bout that local sports team? Discuss among yourselves.

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