Category: Theatre.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Yesterday concluded with me magically spraining my ankle, so I didn’t get around to updating the blog till now, but more on that later.

Aside from my Royal Court tickets, I also purchased advanced tickets to The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe. The show was at 2pm, but I planned on taking a tour of the Globe and checking out their exhibition, so that was my first stop of the day.

The Globe is located on the River Thames, where there happened to be an end-of-summer festival going on. There were all sorts of street performers and activities happening as you walked around, such as this odd fellow.

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The Globe theatre.

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Pictures from the exhibition…. Costume displays:

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Printing press display:

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While this bear is not a prop from The Winter’s Tale, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was — Exit, pursued by a bear. Instead I believe the bear was donated to the Globe and used to represent the bear baiting that also occurred in the Globe and theatres at the time.

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Here are some of the musicians from The Merry Wives of Winsor practicing before the show. Our tour guide was quite miffed that they kept interrupting his lecture. He made lots of snide comments about them.

Also, this is the closest replication of the Globe that researchers have been able to come up with thus far. The painting and decorations are guesses, since we don’t have any paintings or descriptions to use as reference.

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Three tiers of seating, with the groundlings or poor standing on the ground level for performances.

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The heavens.

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After the tour I grabbed lunch in the cafe and waiting for the performance to begin. I bought groundling tickets because they were cheap and I’ve been told it’s the best way to experience the show.

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The groundling view.

I have to say that while I agree the show was much more interactive as a groundling, my feet and back hurt tremendously after standing on concrete for three hours. Oh! I made a friend. I ended up standing with a girl, probably around my age, who was in London on business from Chicago. We talked for a while before the show and then during intermission. I didn’t get her name or any contact info though, she was meeting a client for a business dinner that evening and leaving the next day. C’est la vie.

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The Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s.

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I had planned on going to the Tate Modern after the show, but it was nearly 5pm when it finished and I had missed the last guided tour of the day, so I wandered around the festival.

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Hula-hooping!

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I finally found a telephone booth that wasn’t on a crazy busy street to take a picture with!

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I wandered around the river area for a while, not entirely sure where I was going, but I figured I’d run into a tube station sooner or later. Once I did find a tube station I decided to go to Piccadilly Circus to pick up A’s face wash, some scarves, and dinner.

While I know that the Brit’s mean circus as a circle, Piccadilly Circus was a true circus! Ugh. So many people. It was very Times Square-ish.

Then, somehow as I was walking around I managed to sprain my ankle. I have no idea what happened. I was walking on a flat surface. I didn’t trip over anything. I was wearing the safest possible shoes — flat mary-jane’s and all of a sudden I did this wobble thing and my ankle was in serious pain.

I had intended on searching out platform 9 3/4 after my Piccadilly stop, but the ankle issue put me into a rather fowl mood. I grabbed my dinner and went back to the dorm and called it a night.

Wanderlust

Tonight I visited the Royal Court Theatre and saw a performance of Wanderlust.

I took the underground Victoria line to Victoria station, switched to the Circle line and hopped off at Sloane Square.

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I’ve recently become obsessed with the Court as a result of all the research I’ve been doing for my thesis, so I am very happy to actually see not one, but two productions there. Tonight was Wanderlust. Monday will be Clybourne Park.

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Instead of having programs or playbills the way most theatres do, the Court sells “programs” or rather, the actual playtext for 3 pounds. I love this idea. I’d much prefer to own the text than just a list of the people who worked on the show, especially if I end up falling in love with the show.

So of course I bought the two texts for the shows I’m seeing this trip, as well as a show (Spur of the Moment) that just closed but received a lot of buzz and good reviews and an in-yer-face show (Mojo) from the 1990s that I’m watching a production tape of on Wednesday.

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As for Wanderlust, I think it’s still to early to say how I felt about it. My initial reaction was favorable. I really enjoyed the show but I don’t know if I feel like it was anything noteworthy.

The dialogue was witty, the actors executed the story effectively, I felt the right emotions at the right time and didn’t feel like the play was contrived, but it didn’t seem like anything too special. Perhaps this is because it lacked shock value? Then again, I’ve been so wrapped up in the plays from the 90s, with gruesome scenes of violence, explicit sex and coarse language, so in comparison, Wanderlust seemed tame.

There was one scene where the blocking really stood out to me — a bar scene where the two couples kept walking past and bumping into each other in this open space. There were no set pieces to create the area, but the feeling of trying to walk through a crowded bar was perfectly conveyed. It also made me feel uncomfortable, since the husband and wife were each out with someone other than their spouse.

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After seeing Wanderlust, I’m really excited to see Clybourne Park, since I’ve heard nothing but good reviews on that show. [I’d heard nothing about Wanderlust.]

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting the Globe Theatre, taking a tour there and watching a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Also, since the Globe is on the River Thames, I’ll probably check out the end-of-summer festival that is happening down there. Other than that, I don’t have anything specifically scheduled till Monday. I’m thinking I’ll hit up the National Gallery and do a guided tour and I want to get tickets to another show via TKTS. I’m just now sure what I really want to see. I’m debating between Billy Elliot and Stomp… or both? Ahh, decisions.

Changing of the Guard

I love London.

I can totally picture myself living here. It reminds me a lot of Paris, even though I didn’t spend a lot of time there, except they speak English and not French! Also, I haven’t seen any awesome baguette stands, so Paris wins in the bread department.

Anyway, I love all the history, the traditions, the lore, the theatre that’s everywhere, and the public transportation! Yay for the Tube.

This morning I went and checked out the changing of the guards. The bus tour I went on yesterday offers free walking tours as part of the ticket price, so I met up with the group and did a walking tour of the changing of the guards. I’m so glad that I went with them because otherwise I’m pretty sure I either a) wouldn’t have seen it or b) it would have been disappointing. The tour had us walk to different points, so we could see the whole process. So basically, it was worth it.

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I have a small confession to make.

I’ve seen so many buildings and such already and I take pictures of it all, but by the time I get back here, I’ve forgotten what it was I took the picture of. :-/

I *know* these are the changing of the guard pictures, but I don’t remember which guards were relieving each other.

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Very serious police officer. He yelled at tourists who put even one toe into the street. He also blocked off the traffic for the guard change.

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The band!

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This is the other group of guards. Again, a band followed by the guards.

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Buckingham Palace.

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Random group of horses… See, I’ve forgotten who they really are!

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Random guards to go along with the random horses.

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Queen Victoria’s gate.

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Crap, I can’t remember… I’m pretty sure this gate was a gift from the current Queen to her mother.

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Big Ben.

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Trafalgar’s Square.

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After my sightseeing I finally found a drug store and bought a hair dryer! Hallelujah! I feel human again.

I ate lunch back at the dorm, talked to my parents, took a short nap and now it’s time to visit my favorite theatre in London – The Royal Court! Weee! I’m so excited.

Quarters

Two quarters down, four more to go.

My first quarter of grad school, fall quarter, center on readjusting. Readjusting to school life and life in Ellensburg. Winter quarter was just plain busy. I team-taught two classes and was enrolled in four of my own. I wonder what spring quarter has in store for me. My course load will be heavy again and I’m teaching all by myself. Scary.

My schedule:

Directing I – This class is really why I’m scared. I have ZERO directing experience, but I think it’s important for me to understand the mechanics of directing. If I’d like to pursue dramaturgy, which I think I do, understanding what goes into directing and the director’s perspective will be useful for me. During my undergrad, I took a classed called “Directing Encounters” at FSU. The concept of the class was fantastic, but the instructor was CRAP. Basically, instead of providing us directing opportunities, he did everything himself. So I’m worried that my lack of experience will be a huge disadvantage in succeeding in this class. All that being said, the classes that have forced me out of my comfort zone (acting, voice, even directing encounters) have proved to be the most rewarding. That’s what I’m hoping.

Theatre History Modernism to Contemporary – I am very excited about this class. My interests tend to lie more towards contemporary theatre and this is the area where my thesis focuses. Also, one of our textbooks focuses on postcolonial theatre, such as African theatre and Latin American theatre. Yay.

Analysis and Criticism – This is another class I’m concerned about. I’m not entirely sure what this class will entail beyond reading lots of theory. Theory can be intense, so I’m sure this class will be difficult.

Finally…

Dramaturgical Practicum – Again, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing exactly. We will be doing some sort of dramaturgical work on Urinetown, which CWU will be producing in the fall. Right now I’m signed up for two credit hours, but I’m debating whether or not I should drop down to just one credit.

On top of all that, I’m teaching Introduction to Theatre and helping with Theatre Appreciation and Film.

I’m also writing a grant for a summer research. I’m going to write more about my summer plans in another post….

All in all, I don’t think this quarter will be any busier or scarier than the previous quarters. I know how to manage grad school work and teaching, it’s just a matter of perfecting my time management skills.

phase two.

Warning: This post is basically for my own future use.

I’ve started to think about PhD programs and what I’m looking for in them. Next summer I want to narrow down my school options and see about making visits to the schools. Then in the fall, I’ll be applying to schools. So, as I’ve been in grad school for a couple months, I started to think about what I want in my next school. I love the CWU masters program. I think it’s the perfect place for me to be right now and will give me great experience for my CV, ie. I’ll have teaching experience, including upper division classes, dramaturgical experience and will have served on a service committee. All of which are essential for making my CV look stellar. That being said, CWU lacks a lot of things that at this point in time, I believe I want in a PhD program.I want to write these things down now, so I can compare what my needs are when I get closer to making real decisions about graduate schools.

First and foremost, the ultimate deciding factor for a PhD program will be the scholars at the institution. I have to go where there are scholars in my field of interest. Secondly, funding is incredibly important. I’ll want to make sure there are possible fellowships or assistantships available to me. Because, hello grad school is expensive!

But after that, here are some things that are also important to me:

I’m basing my ideas off of FSU’s program, simply because it’s the only other grad school environment that I’ve seen in action and sort of been a part of.

I want a larger program.

FSU has a MFA programs in lighting, directing, costume design, acting, playwriting, scenic design and theatre management, along with a MA and PhD in theatre studies. What does all that mean to me? Lots of other graduate students! I don’t have a lot of time for a social life, but if there were other theatre graduate students around I’d have a better opportunity to meet people my own age and with my own interests. I also know that the graduate students at FSU were really close and had a tight-knit social scene. I want that.

I also want a larger program because it will mean a more professional theatre environment. CWU’s program is so small and the faculty and staff is very limited, they (the faculty) design and direct the shows, not the students. I felt like FSU’s seasons had more variety, funding and creative resources. The theatre also runs like a professional theatre. The theatre management students are house managers, marketers, in charge of ushers, run the box office, etc. The graduate students are directors and designs. The theatre studies students serve as dramaturgs. Also, the shows run for two weeks with matinée performances. In comparison, CWU’s performances are very informal. Not a bad thing, just different and maybe not what I want in the long run. Plus, FSU has a thriving student theatre community, allowing for more theatre and opportunities to get involved.

I want a program where I can develop my production experience, most likely through dramaturgy, but perhaps directing.

I want to be able to teach, especially upper level classes. I think now that I have (am getting) teaching experience, I will be completely comfortable teaching my own upper level classes when the time comes. I feared that if I went to a bigger program for my MA, that I’d be thrown into the experience without any assistance. I’m getting all the training and experience I need here at CWU, I’ll be able to survive in a bigger program now.

Tallahassee also allows for community theatre experience. I know that the options are limited, but Ellensburg has zero outside theatre opportunities, unless you count the high school. So I’d like the option to do something in the community, whether or not I end up taking advantage of that opportunity.

I need a school that has a well staffed, well stocked, current library. That is the biggest issue with CWU. I have access to other libraries in the area, but it takes weeks to get books from there and CWU’s theatre section is ancient. I believe FSU is categorized as a research one university, meaning they have an extensive collection of library resources.

All this being said, it still comes down to funding and scholars. I am looking at FSU again, but only as one possible option. University of Texas at Austin is also high on my list. After that, I’m just not sure. I need to focus my own interests before I select schools.

I would give an arm, leg, and kidney…

I want to go to New York so badly. I NEED to see some New York theatre. As I type this post I’m watching a documentary called: Show Business: Road to Broadway, which chronicles the journey of four Broadway musicals from the 2003-2004 seasons who are competing for the ultimate award, the Tony. It’s making this desire so much worse for me. Since starting grad school and reentering the world of theatre, the need and desire to see more live theatre and a musical is growing.

My last trip to New York was actually during that 2003-2004 season, I was a sophomore in college, still hopelessly obsessed with the musical and didn’t know other types of theatre existed. My perspective has changed so much since then. Now I’m so fascinated by the history, the social aspects, looking at who the shows are marketed to, what messages they send, what the season as a whole says about the theatrical enviornment, and the critical responses.

I have to be honest, I’ve never seen a straight play when in New York. I have only seen musicals. I think that’s such a shame. I would love to go back see a couple musicals, but I’d also love to see a straight play, a de la guarda show, or even Blue Man Group. There’s so much to see!

While I’m dreaming… can I go to London? See some British theatre. What about Italy? Greece?! I want to travel the world seeing theatre.

le sigh.

Changes!

As of last Friday I no longer work at the bank, or any bank for that matter. It’s a weird feeling. I’m not sad nor do I miss it. Although I do miss a few of the people, not everyone, just a few. 🙂 My boss (who I wasn’t a fan of) tried to convince me that come Monday morning, I’d be sad about not having to come into work. Yeah right! I don’t feel any sadness or loss. It’s weird, it’s like those two years never happened. Working at the bank was always an out of body experience. It never felt right and I couldn’t see myself doing it. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but when I tried to picture myself working in a bank, I couldn’t. I mean, obviously, I did work there for two years, but it didn’t and doesn’t fit into who I am or how I see myself.

Today I called HR to check on my final paycheck amount and boy what a hassle! They already removed me from the HR system, which I understand but think is stupid. Now I have no access to any of my old paycheck stubs or the ability to change any contact information and duh, I’m moving. Awesome. At least if they mail stuff, like my W2, to this address, my parents can forward it to me. Anyway, I also changed my accounts to free accounts (otherwise, they were going to charge me services fees without telling me. Not cool.) and found out my final paycheck amount, which will be deposited on Monday. Hooray voluntary unemployment!

Then on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, Sunday/Monday was my last day at the theatre. I’m actually really sad to be done. I’ve met some awesome people over the past nine months. I made friends my own age and got to explore St. Pete and go places I never would have discovered on my own. I also worked on some awesome shows, ranging in a variety of styles. King Hedley II, part of August Wilson’s century cycle. Lysistrata, a new adaptation. Altar Boyz in the Park. Tuesdays with Morrie in the new theatre and Doubt. All unique, all offered me new learning experiences. I have to say that Altar Boyz was my favorite production to work on, mainly because the whole experience was so positive. The cast and crew were awesome, we all got along, hung out together, had fun. The show was a blast! I never got tired of seeing/hearing it every night… and most of all, Park means a lot to me. I grew up going to Shakespeare in the Park and to be a part of the park experience, but from the other side meant the world to me.

Doubt was my favorite show, content wise. I find the show fascinating. There are so many ways to interpret the story, from the obvious, “Is he or Isn’t he?” debate, to the idea of convicting someone or making a decision/judgment based on thoughts or feelings. Plus, I love that Shanley never says whether or not Flynn is guilty. It’s left up to the production, actor and audience to decide for themselves. Plus, I had the chance to be a paid member of the crew. So it was cool to go from being an intern at the theatre to an official crew member.

Anyway, working at the theatre not only taught me how a professional theatre works and gave me production experience (which I lacked), but it also reaffirmed that the theatre is where I am meant to spend my life. I am so thankful to everyone there for providing me with the opportunities that I had. I really am going to miss being there and working on shows.

Monday, I helped out with an AIDS benefit, Die Mommie Die. It was a staged reading by the Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project to benefit Metro Charities. It was a roaring success! We actually sold out and had people sitting on stage, plus, with the help of the actors, raised a bunch of money for the 50/50! Yay! Here’s a picture of me and a couple of the actors.

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I know that my life in Washington and my theatre experiences will just keep getting better and better. So while I’m sad to move on, I know that good stuff is on my horizon!  🙂

Oh theatre…

As my stage manager says… “Live Theatre — there ain’t NOTHIN’ like it…”

Yesterday was a weird day in the theatre. Our matinee show started about 20 minutes late because of people coming ridiculously late. I don’t understand why people show up for a 3pm show, AT 3pm. Get to the theatre early! This isn’t a movie, this is a show with actors and you’re late arrival disturbs the actors and the rest of the audience.

Then after the show one of the patrons got discombobulated and ended up in the rehearsal hall looking for restrooms. She eventually stumbled upon the dressing rooms and asked to use their bathroom, but not before having an accident on the floor. Awesome.

We have a break between the matinee and evening show, after I came back from break someone had emptied the prop waste paper basket. Uhhh… I don’t know who was trying to do me a favor, but the paper was in there on purpose! Luckily, it was no big deal and I just crumpled up some more paper and it was all fixed.

Anyway, weird day.

Also, being in the costume shop makes me want to be five years old again and play dress-up. There are so many fun costumes and shoes that want to be tried on! Maybe that’s part of the appeal of being an actor, getting to dress-up and be someone different than yourself. Sadly, I really don’t have the desire or talent to be an actor, so I’ll leave that for the professionals and go thrift shopping and play dress-up in my own way. 🙂

This week has once again confirmed to me how much I love theatre and being in the theatre. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to have a job in the theatre and that I’m going to school in less than  a month to study it full-time. I’m truly looking forward to submerging myself back into theatre completely.

The Laramie Project – 10 years later.

A friend posted the following article from the New York Times on facebook yesterday. I wrote my final for Gender, Race and Performance about The Laramie Project and hate crimes. It’s actually the paper that I submitted as my writing sample for graduate school applications and given the opportunity, I’d like to expand on the paper. Therefore, I really want to see this! There will be a showing at the Seattle Rep Theatre, which is about an hour and 45 minutes away from where I’ll be living. I know I have classes on Mondays (the show is on Monday, October 12th) and it is a bit of a drive, but assuming the tickets aren’t crazy expensive, I want to go!

August 4, 2009
Big Opening for Epilogue to ‘The Laramie Project’

By PATRICK HEALY
The creators of “The Laramie Project,” the acclaimed play about the 1998 murder of a 21-year-old gay man, Matthew Shepard, are finishing work on an 80-minute epilogue to the original work that will be given its debut simultaneously at dozens of theaters across the United States on Oct. 12, the 11th anniversary of Mr. Shepard’s death.

Moisés Kaufman, the playwright and director who, with his Tectonic Theater Project company, wrote and produced the first “Laramie Project,” said the epilogue would explore the impact of the Shepard killing on the residents of Laramie, Wyo., where it occurred. The dialogue will be drawn from interviews with dozens of people there, some of whom were involved in the crime, including Aaron McKinney, who was convicted of murdering Mr. Shepard and who gave an interview to the Tectonic artists.

“We wanted to see what occurs in a small town in the long run when it’s been subject to such a devastating event,” Mr. Kaufman said in an interview. “What has been the long-lasting effect of this watershed moment? Is the fallout of these events positive, negative or perhaps a better question, is it measurable in those terms?”

In holding multiple premieres of the play on the same night, Mr. Kaufman said he was taking a page from the Federal Theater Project, the New Deal program that often opened plays in a multitude of cities on the same night.

Tectonic’s goal is to recruit 100 regional theaters, universities and other arts organizations to hold staged readings of the work, which is called “The Laramie Project — 10 Years Later.” More than 40 theaters have committed to the readings, including Arena Stage in Washington, Seattle Repertory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. The Tectonic company will hold its performance in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

“We’re also taking advantage of contemporary technology so that at the New York performance we’ll be connected to the other productions across the nation via the Internet,” Mr. Kaufman said. “We’re giving each production a video recorder so that they can document the event, and we’ll be answering questions live from across the country,” after the performances on Oct. 12, a Monday.

Mr. Kaufman and his epilogue co-writers — Stephen Belber, Leigh Fondakowski, Andy Paris and Greg Pierotti — returned to Laramie last fall to reinterview several townspeople who originally gave accounts to Tectonic in 1998 about Mr. Shepard, Mr. McKinney and the events preceding and following the murder. Those accounts were threaded together verbatim to create “The Laramie Project,” which has had several thousand productions since it opened Off Broadway in 2000.

In writing the new work Mr. Kaufman and his colleagues said they would reflect the range of views currently held by Laramie residents and others about whether Mr. Shepard’s murder was a hate crime by two homophobic men (Mr. McKinney and his accomplice, Russell Henderson) or the result of a botched attempt by the two men to rob Mr. Shepard.

Some Laramie residents, in defending their community during the interviews last fall, argued that they had come to see the motives and circumstances leading to the murder as more complicated than a hate crime. But others there insisted that Mr. McKinney and Mr. Henderson had been driven by their personal disgust toward Mr. Shepard, who was well known as an openly gay man in their town.

Mr. Kaufman declined to reveal details of the interview with Mr. McKinney, who, like Mr. Henderson, is now serving two consecutive life sentences. The two men lured Mr. Shepard from a Laramie bar on the night of Oct. 6, 1998; Mr. Shepard was ultimately tied to a fence, pistol-whipped and left to die.

“As always, what we found defied expectations,” Mr. Kaufman said. “It’s a fallacy to try to define Laramie the way one would describe an individual. There are 27,000 people in Laramie. There are at least 27,000 Laramies.”

“But one of the things that was very clear from the start is the question of how does one measure change,” he continued. “Is it in the number of public monuments that have been erected? Is it in the number of laws that have been passed? Is it in the number of people whose views have been changed?”

Natalie Bohnet, executive director of UApresents, which will stage the reading at a 2,500-seat theater at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, said the campus is expected to sponsor other events in conjunction with the performance in hopes of turning that Columbus Day weekend in October into “a major learning experience.”

“We’ll have some professors of constitutional law holding a forum, and students on campus are expected to hold their own events, so we can look more deeply at hate crimes in America and issues of justice,” she said.

It is unclear if the new work will be performed on that October night in Laramie, but it will be produced as close as Denver, about two hours away by car, at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Stephen Seifert, executive director of the Newman Center, at the University of Denver, said he chose to hold a reading in part because of the theater’s proximity to Laramie. (Mr. Shepard died at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., several days after the attack.)

“I was a history major in college, and my focus was the history of the American frontier,” Mr. Seifert said. “No matter what differences of opinions exist about Matthew Shepard, his murder is now a part of the West’s history, of American history.”

A conversation and a story.

A conversation.

My boss: So, you must have a lot to do. Are you excited?
Me: I am. I’m ready to wrap things up here and make the move.
Boss: Washington is beautiful. The whole area is gorgeous.
Me: Yeah, so I’ve heard. I’ve never been to Washington before.
Boss: Have you even seen the school?
Me: No, I haven’t seen the school, or Washington or even been to the Northwest.

Boss: The cost of living is supposed to be high up there.
Me: Uh, well, I don’t think that’s actually the case where I’m going. It’s a very small town.
Boss: So are you going to visit the capital?
*Thinking to myself… What is the capital of Washington? Tacoma? Olympia? What is in the capital to see?*
Me: Uh, sure. Eventually, I’ll visit it.

My boss asked some other question relating to the capital, when it dawned on me…

Me: I’m not going to Washington, DC. I’m going to the state of Washington.

* * *

A story.
[Possible Doubt Spoilers, but not really.]

After the show tonight, I walked out through the lobby and ran into a couple ushers talking to Sister Aloysius. They just told our stage manager a story and wanted to retell it to Sister A. So being curious, I decided to hang around and be nosy. Apparently the usher had seen the production when it was in Tampa with Cherry Jones (the original Sister Aloysius), and when she had went, the usher told her to make sure she stayed after the show ended. The woman said that once the show ended, and after about 2/3 of the audience had filed out where there was a gunshot heard off stage. No explanation of who the shot came from, or who shot who… just a gunshot. I don’t know. I don’t necessarily doubt the validity of the story, but I call bluff that it was supposed to be included in the production. The director perhaps had taken some artistic liberty? Regardless, there is no gunshot in the script, no gunshot in the movie and certainly no gunshot in our production. Furthermore, a gunshot doesn’t fit the story. It was an interesting story, though.