Performing Arts in a Pandemic: The Making of The Laramie Project

February 12, 2021

By Lisa Brackett, Theatre Director, and Teacher

As with the original play, a handful of actors play over 60 characters in The Laramie Project. And Laramie: Ten Years Later.

Every actor worked with me, the Director and Assistant Director Sam Goldstein ’21, to polish scenes. Actors were given a timeslot of an hour to an hour and a half, and we met every weekend for two months. Our Costumer Andrea DeMayo – Clancy, AP ’14, ’16 worked individually with each actor to select pieces for their characters. 

Ready to Film: When ready, our actors would forward a page listing with the character and page numbers they would be doing that day and indicate the props needed to our Stage Manager Chaira Gugliemo ’21.

 They would enter Wheeler Hall, go directly downstairs, show a safety pass, and get their costumes and hair ready with our Costumer. All the props for the day were disinfected and put out. 

An actor and videographer work on a stage to record part of a pandemic production of the high school fall play.
An actor and videographer work alone and distanced on a stage to record part of a pandemic production of the Upper School’s production of The Laramie Project.

The process: The actor would come back upstairs and choose a table or chair. They would set it on a small platform next to an air purifier, get their prop and go up on the platform. There they would remove their mask, and Jesse Yip ’08 would film the scene from 14 feet away with Sam Goldstein on the deck to read lines and help set shots. I coached from the balcony with the Director of Technical Theater; Department Head Performing Arts Andrew Hall ’89, who was running lights.

When they finished one character, the actor would put their mask back on, reset their set-piece, change their costume, and repeat the process. Once finished, the actor returned their costume downstairs, changed, and exited the building. We would then clear and disinfect the area for 15 minutes and then call the next actor up.

We had over 400 hundred scenes that Jesse Yip and Sam Goldstein put together!

Thank you: I want to thank everyone involved in this ambitious project, from the Health Center, the Maintenance team, the administration, the cast and crew’s parents, and to a fantastic team. All original music was created by music faculty member Francisco Cardoso and Amazing Grace wa sung by Iris Cephas ’20.

March 4th, we will premiere Laramie Project: Ten Years Later with a different cast and the Asst. Directors are Ruby Goldstein ’22 and Charles Ragona ’22.

The Laramie Project premiered on Wheeler School Broadcasting on Friday, February 12, 2021.

Cast members in a collage
The cast of The Laramie Project.

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