Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Giving Back through Theatre: Theatrical Outreach Program

The poster for our show!
This past weekend I was lucky enough to perform in Theatrical Outreach Program’s production of The Laramie Project. Theatrical Outreach Program, also known as “TOP,” is a theatre organization on the Rose Hill campus that performs shortened versions of classic plays in order to make them more accessible to schoolchildren in our community. They perform the shows on the Fordham campus and then take them to various places in the community. Through TOP, many children are able to be exposed to theatre who otherwise would not.

In this scene, cast members portray newscasters reporting on the crime.
Usually, the club performs Shakespeare or other classic pieces of theatre, such as Thornton Wilder’s Our Town  or Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of 
Being Earnest. This show, The Laramie Project, was something new for the club, as it is more modern. It was written in 2000 by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project. They traveled to Laramie, Wyoming after the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. In the show, each cast member plays multiple characters and the text draws on interviews with the people of the town, court proceedings, and the company member’s journal entries. This powerful, poignant show focuses on the town’s reaction to this hate crime.

In this scene, Reggie Fluty (played by Molly Carney) and Marge Murry (played by Jackie Gawne) discuss the effects of Matthew Shepard's murder on their own lives.
Having never worked with this club before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was an incredible. I met new people, made new friends, and got the chance to really hone my skills as an actor. The show also made me want to direct a show next year which is another opportunity that TOP provides, as all the shows have both a student director and assistant student director. The experience isn’t over yet either! Tomorrow, the cast is traveling an LGBT elderly center in Manhattan to do our outreach and share our work with them. I think this is an incredibly unique way to give back, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to be a part of it at Fordham!

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