(photo credit: Vincent Champoux)
by Isabelle-Ann Charlebois
At Le Trident, this season is the season of noise: La saison qui fait du bruit. To speak or not to speak. To express yourself or not to express yourself. Laramie which means “Tears of Love” represents well the drama of Le Projet Laramie.
Le Trident's stage, partly covered with sand, takes us directly to Laramie, Wyoming. Laramie is beautiful...but there is a flaw. At the heart of that flaw are attitudes to homosexuality. Embroidered around the flaw, is an array of concerns: bullying, violence, acceptance, social blindness, silence, pity, intolerance, the right to be different. Everyone is concerned.
Ten actors play 60 different Laramie residents; each is the spokesperson for a different viewpoint and opinion about what happened. Everything is “ok” as long as you follow "the guidelines". Director Gill Champagne forces us to consider our own values through the prism of Mormonism and Christianity. Is religion a good or a bad thing; it all depends on how you interpret the "guidelines" and live them.
The "guidelines"? Do no harm, help one another, etc. But also, as explained in the play, the word "family", by definition, consists of a woman, a man and their children. Then there is the paradox central to the entire play: Christian writings state that violence of all kind is wrong. Everyone in Laramie believed that. But then there was Matthew Shepard. Laramie, a small town where everyone knows each other, was broken apart. The play shows us how the murder challenged everything. The accused, Aaron McKinney (Lucien Ratio) and Russel Henderson (Jocelyn Pelletier), take us, and Laramie, on an emotional “joy” ride. Ratio’s performance, especially, plays on the fears which grow out of the goodness of the people of Laramie.
When I got out of the theatre, I was completely haunted by the words of Shepard's mother, “Go home and hug your children”.
And I did.