Culver City High School’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) Program is proud to present The Laramie Project, in concert with Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre. The Laramie Project is a play by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project about the reaction to the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The murder was denounced as a hate crime and brought attention to the lack of hate crime laws in various states, including Wyoming.
Due to its sensitive subject matter, The Laramie Project is the most banned play in high school productions. But CCUSD never has and continues to not back away from difficult subjects that may stir controversy, as evidenced by being the first high school in the country to present David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face, in 2021.
“The Laramie Project encourages us to continue much needed conversations within the CCUSD community that propel understanding and acceptance in a world that is in constant struggle between oppression and progress,” says AVPA Creative Theatre Director and director of the play, Lee Margaret Hanson. “AVPA Theatre is honored to present this deeply moving and inspiring piece of theatre in allyship with the LGBTQ+ community.”
While courageous high schools do produce this play, what makes CCUSD’s production different is the partnership with the professional theatre company Center Theatre Group (CTG), and the experience students are getting in Career Technical Education (CTE), workplace learning and exposure to theatre arts, media and the entertainment community.
“We are fortunate to have the 1200 seat state-of-the-art Robert Frost Auditorium on our campus. But having the students mount this play at the 300-seat Kirk Douglas gives them experience in a completely different theatrical setting, inclusive of front of the house, back of the house, and working with a full staff of professionals,” says CCUSD Arts Education Coordinator Heather Moses. CTE Pathways, part of Culver City High School’s curriculum, connects students to industry and workplace learning in multiple professional trades, including the arts, media and entertainment.
A long-standing and generous supporter of CCUSD’s arts education programming, Sony Pictures Entertainment is underwriting the costs of the Kirk Douglas.
As with many AVPA endeavors, this production will be cross-disciplinary with AVPA Visual Art students working with CTG Teaching Artist Zachary Bones on a community art project for participation in the lobby, and AVPA film is documenting the project with photos and preparing a trailer to promote the show.
“CTG is thrilled to be supporting CCUSD on The Laramie Project as part of our Front and Center Theatre Collaborative, which was created to help provide access to theatre programming and resources to students across the district,” says CTG Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “I’m a firm believer that change can be made through not just policy, but also great storytelling. And in order to change minds, we first have to touch hearts. Our hope is that AVPA’s production of The Laramie Project will do just that.”
The show runs November 2-4 at 7 pm, and November 5 at 2 pm, at the Kirk Douglas, 9820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. Each performance will be followed by a community conversation with community members from the arts, LGBTQ+, and CCUSD. $25 general admission. Click here to purchase tickets (https://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/kirk-douglas-theatre/guest-productions/the-laramie-project/).
With limited parking in downtown Culver City, audience members are asked to consider taking Culver CityBus or use other mobility options. Culver CityBus will hold a raffle for Village Well Books & Coffee gift baskets for those who take the bus to the theater. Village Well will also have LGBTQ+-themed books and some of the most banned books / most banned books for sale in the lobby.