On the Road With
BY Advocate Contributors
September 14 2010 2:20 PM ET
Here is a table full of directors, designers, writers, and interns and actress Christina Rouner rehearsing the role of Beth Loffreda in Laramie: 10 Years Later. Beth starts us off in the second play with the words, “I’m thinking about the anniversary a lot. Ten years have passed ... That’s a long time.”
She was somewhat haunted by Matthew Shepard when I interviewed her for the second play. She came to teach at the University of Wyoming just a few months before Matthew was killed. In the aftermath of the murder, she was moved to write a remarkable book. Anyone who wants to understand the complexities of this crime and the culture from which it arose must read Losing Matt Shepard.
Chapter 2 of that book opens with, “A town is not a culture, not precisely. Drive ten blocks in any direction in Laramie, and perhaps the most you could say that is definitively shared by the lives you move past is that they happen under the same quixotic weather, surrounded by the same light-struck, wind-cut plain.”
The same might be said of Tectonic Theater Project. We are not a culture. Not precisely. In my previous column I described my disappointment with some in Laramie who have changed the narrative of Matthew’s murder. Some disagreement in the company ensued regarding my analysis of the situation in Laramie and whether it was appropriate for me to make a judgment on the subject. To a degree the concerns are warranted. Our role, after all, has always been to listen to Laramie and report back what we hear.
So just to be clear, the perspectives that I express in this series are mine alone. I don’t speak for our theater company. Just as there can be no simple understanding of what Laramie “believes” — as if a town could believe anything — there can be no simple understanding of what Tectonic “believes.”
The plays we make are born out of collaborative effort, out of our willingness to be influenced by one another, and out of our compromises when we continue to disagree. This divergence of opinions and aesthetics, along with the struggle to forge them all into a cohesive whole in our plays, is what gives rigor to the work. Our individual beliefs and perspectives about the lives we represent and the stories we tell always remain our own. The fact that Moisés Kaufman has created a company where this kind of struggle and creativity can unfold and that I am a part of it is one of the more satisfying situations in my life.