The Laramie Project, a production at SF State by the theater department, was supposed to open on Thursday, Oct. 12. However, like the rest of campus due to the fires, the play was shut down and opened the following week instead.
The cast, consisting of around 60 people, had been working on the play since August. When the play resumed on Oct. 19, the cast lost a weekend of production.
Gary Hughes, a theater major acting as Matt Mickelson and others, was disappointed at first when the show was canceled because of how much it meant to him.
“We’ve put in so much work to make sure that this story is told correctly so that everyone could take something from it,” he said. “But once you think about all of those families that have lost their homes or loved ones to the fire, you start to get some perspective”
The show, based on a true story, was about the trial and aftermath of the death of a 21-year-old man named Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, who was killed in a hate crime over his sexuality.
Although his death was 10 years ago, according to the show, events like these are still happening today.
One attendee, Isabel Hansen, came to see a friend, Hilary Buffum in the play on the October 22nd, but originally planned to see her the previous weekend.
“It was shut down due to air quality. It was no fault to them so I wanted to support my friend in the show, ” she explains.“I hadn’t bought tickets yet and I really thought the story was something we needed to hear.”
Kyle Williams, a theater major acting as Aaron Mckinney, was proud of the production and the crew for how the show turned out.
“Having the first weekend of our run canceled was a huge bummer, but I feel like we definitely made the best of what we had for our run,” he said. “The audiences were amazing every night.”
As the team warmed up together for the last time of the production, some of the actors began to tear up while they spoke of the camaraderie created within the cast.
Vanessa Hill, stage manager for the show, lead the cast through it all. As they all held hands in the warm up circle, the cast shouted for her to join the group.
“They were all such naturals when they came into audition; I truly did enjoy [being stage manager],” she said. “The whole ride was an amazing experience.”
With just a few seats empty in each show, the production in the Little Theater in the Creative Arts building almost sold out.
Maya Nazzal, a theater major acting as Jeffrey Lockwood and others, was happy to be a part of a production that was something she believed so strongly in.
“At the end of the day, I’m just grateful we were still able to put the show on no matter how many shows we got,” she said. “[The moment the cast reconnected] definitely sparked my soul with joy and I was excited to continue on the process and put our production out there.”