A cast and creative team made up of local high school students has begun the process of producing a drama on stage about the aftermath of a well-known hate crime.
Under the guidance of industry professionals at Florida’s largest award-winning professional regional theatre, area students are taking part in a free summer mentorship program to produce the drama The Laramie Project on the Theatre’s professional stage. The show will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.
“This project is a unique opportunity for students to receive graduate school-level training ground as teenagers, and also an opportunity for the theatre professionals to pass on their knowledge in a meaningful way,” said Julie Rowe, the Theatre’s director of education. “This enables our Theatre not only to be educational, but to secure the arts for future generations.”
After passing through an extensive interview and selection process, the student creative team consists of: Chloe Rojas, 17, producer; Corinne Thomas, 17, director; Jessica Woodard, 17, costume designer; Jennifer Vasbinder, 13, props and scenic designer; Charly Hamann, 15, sound designer; Rozee Rossi, 14, production stage manager; Lauren O’ Keefe, 15, assistant stage manager; and Victoria Pavlock, 14, director of marketing.
The show’s director and producer also cast the show’s young performers. They are: Rachel Greenfeld, 15, Frances Weissler, 14, Caiti Marlowe, 15, Michelle Shannon, 13, Antonio Chico, 16, Thomas Spencer, 15, Matthew Paszkiet, 14, and Calvin Bankert, 18.
The Laramie Project is about the brutal murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. As interviews with local citizens and officials unveil the hate crime and its aftermath, the play explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion in which we are capable.
Known as the Youth Artists’ Chair and part of the Theatre’s Emerging Artist Series, the project aligns high school students with individual Theatre staff members for one-on-one mentoring and guidance during the creation process of the show. Through the project, students produced the drama The Good Times are Killing Me on the Theatre’s stage in 2011.
Rowe, who will be mentoring the show’s young director, Corrine Thomas, said the life skills learned through this project will be invaluable.
“We will be spending time in dramaturgical research, in-depth study of the script and what makes a balanced stage picture. We are also learning to communicate with many different personalities of designers and actors, in a way that will help them reach their personal best,” Rowe said. “The director has to be able to see the entire process and enable everyone to achieve their goals in a positive manner.”
Corrine, a junior at Suncoast Community High School who is dual enrolled at Palm Beach State College, said she aims to direct a compelling production that urges the audience to learn from the show’s lessons.
“This production offers a powerful, poignant demonstration of reality and the human condition,” she said. “The material is brilliant, insightful and thoughtful. I’m very pleased with our cast and can’t wait to start rehearsals.”
Tickets are on sale now for The Laramie Project, which will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children.
For information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit www.jupitertheatre.org or call (561) 575-2223.