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  •   PHS high school theatre students (L to R): Mara Bochenek, Wai-Lum Weise, Roy Gray and Elsie Larson-Kunkel rehearse for “The Laramie Project.”

    Pacific Hills “Laramie Project”
    By Courier Staff Writer

          Pacific Hills School theatre department will stage The Laramie Project on May 6-7. This moving and thought-provoking production surrounding the 1998 tragic death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, will be performed by an ensemble cast of students including Nika Aroustamian, Mara Bochenek, Jabari Brown, Elsie Larson-Kunkel, Roy Gray, Eric Stern, Sophie Ullett and Wai-Lum Weise.
          On October 7, 1998, a young man was discovered bound to a fence in the hills outside Laramie, Wyoming, savagely beaten and left to die in an act of brutality and hate that shocked the nation. Matthew Shepard’s death became a national symbol of intolerance, but for the people of Laramie the event was deeply personal, and it is their voices we hear in this stunningly effective theatre piece. Playwright Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the beating and conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town. From these interviewed as well as their own experiences, Kaufman and company have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience.
          Headmaster Rich Makoff commented: “I think it’s a very important subject that young people need to be exposed to and we plan to use it as a source for continuing education and discussion at Pacific Hills School and in our community.”
          Kathleen Conner, director and chair of PHS’s Visual and Performing Arts Department,added, “Theatre can be used as voice for what is good and to sow seeds of change. Hate is learned; our hope is this play will open some minds, reinforce others and create a positive dialogue amongst our students, which is the overall value of theatre in general and educational theatre specifically.”
          The city of West Hollywood recently awarded an Art Grant to Pacific Hills School in celebration of its 20th anniversary of cityhood. The grants are intended to nurture creativity by helping organizations develop art projects, augment their audiences and gain visibility that directly profits the West Hollywood community. PHS’s $1000 grant will be used for their production of The Laramie Project.
          The Laramie Project is open to the public and tickets can be purchased for $10 at the door.
          Pacific Hills School, 8628 Holloway Dr. is a private, independent 6-12 grade college preparatory school in its 23rd year.
          Located in West Hollywood, Pacific Hills School enrolls approximately 300 students each year.

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