Jennifer Grajewski decided the show must go on for the Kentridge High School Drama Club despite the COVID-19 restrictions that halted any live stage performances in front of a audience.
Like so many other things in 2020, the show has gone virtual.
Because art cannot be created in “normal ways,” Grajewski, the Kentridge drama teacher, said she was determined to do two things.
“Create art with my students and model that you can do great things even in adverse situations,” Grajewski said in an email. “Collaboration, creativity and compassion can help you get there.”
So from Oct. 15-17 people will be able to go online to watch Kentridge’s production of, “The Laramie Project.” Virtual tickets are just $5 and can be purchased at showtix4u.com/event-details/40073. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Oct. 15-17 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 17.
“The Laramie Project” is the true story of the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998, told through interviews done with the residents of Laramie, Wyoming, Grajewski said. Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay and this started a huge movement in America to protect LBGTQ!A+ individuals.
“It did not happen right away but about a year after Matthew’s murder laws in states and in our country started to change,” Grajewski said. “People began to understand the magnitude of hate that there was about who individuals choose to love.”
Grajewski saw similarities with what is happening with protest marches in 2020.
“We are obviously still working on this, but I saw a strong parallel with George Floyd and racial equity and justice issues being protested right now,” Grajewski said. “So, I decided to find a way to do Laramie.”
Let the challenges begin.
“I did all rehearsing virtually using (Microsoft) Teams and Zoom…..for hours and hours,” said Grajewski, director of the play. “Then we brought in each cast member (there are 45) one at a time, took temperatures, wore masks and socially distanced ourselves to record each person.”
Kentridge students, staff and community members were used to cast the show.
Then Grajewski invited Emilio Miguel Torres, a Kentridge graduate and New York University film student who is home due to COVID-19, to edit the project. He also recorded it.
“It is the play, but done in a very different way,” Grajewski said.
Torres jumped at the opportunity for his first feature-length project, a virtual cinematic performance of the school’s fall play.
“Working on this has been so fulfilling and fun,” Torres said on Facebook. “Jennifer Grajewski approached me about making this months ago, and it has been with creative problem solving and intense planning that our team has been able to will this thing to happen. Covid-conscious film shoots at the theater and virtual editing techniques are all part of this.”
Proceeds from the tickets will be donated to the Matthew Shepard Foundation to help LGBTQIA+ teens in the community. The play is rated PG-13 due to language and mature subject matter.
“We have left all the violence in it, because it is a big part of telling the story,” Grajewski said.
• View the trailer at: