Uncovering The Laramie Project with Lulu Fairclough-Stewart
For the past few years, the winter shows at Hanover High have been comedies. Last year we had The Government Inspector, a comedy about a moocher who is mistaken as a government inspector by villagers in Russia. The townspeople flock to him and smother him in money and favors, only to discover that he is just a regular man. This man is not only an imposter; he has also run off with all of the mayor’s money, his daughter, and his wife. The year prior the Footlighters performed the comedic play, The Dining Room. This is the first year since 2011 that the winter play hasn’t been a comedy. This year, the play is the farthest from comedy that we can get: The Laramie Project.
The Laramie Project is a documentary-style play about the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. The play consists of hundreds of fascinating interviews from the actual townspeople of Laramie, Wyoming. Through these interviews, we witness the reactions to Matthew Shepard’s death from multiple points of view. These characters range from the killers themselves to the mother of the cop who responded to the call. I was able to sit down with one of the actors in The Laramie Project, Lulu Fairclough-Stewart and hear her thoughts on the show.
Lulu plays a variety of roles, her main one being Marge Murray, the mother of the officer who responded to the call of Matthew Shepard’s beating. Marge is a woman who is “kind of set in her way on how she views the world, and she’s a hard woman, but also kind of soft” Lulu says. Lulu also plays a judge, a friend of one of the murderers, and a woman who attended the funeral of Matthew Shepard. When the Footlighters first announced that they were doing The Laramie Project, parents asked if there would be counselors to help the actors through the process due to the play’s intensity. At first, Lulu asked, “Why would we need that? It’s not that big of a deal!” However, after reading the play and getting more in touch with her characters, she said “What’s getting to me now is that it started with me thinking about how to act like this person, but then I realized that these are real people and everything that we’re saying was said and everything our characters are thinking was thought.”
While some actors are nervous for the play, Lulu isn’t that jittery. She says “The play itself is very arty and simple and the script isn’t a comedy so there’s no way we could fall flat. I’m assuming that some audience members may laugh because it gets uncomfortable at times.” Lulu has been in a lot of comedies in her high school acting career and is looking forward to something a little more serious, she adds, “I think that this play will make people think instead of react.”