'The Laramie Project' High School Production Gets the Boot in Fullerton

Categories: Culture, Theater

Tim Chesnut

Four years ago, Fred Phelps, the now banished (and the God-who-Hates-Fags-willing soon to be dead) founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, announced plans to boycott a Santa Ana staging of The Laramie Project, an oral history project turned play that documented the events surrounding the 1998 killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming and, most important, the repercussions in that university town two years later.

It's doubtful that Dr. George Giokaris, the superintendent of the Fullerton Union High School District, shares Phelps' views, but, apparently, he's got something against Troy High School producing the play, because he's put the kibosh on a production.

Earlier this year, The Laramie Projectwas proposed as the school's spring, open-audition play. It was soon nixed by Dr. Giokaris for "containing mature themes," according to a post on an on-line petition site, gsanetwork.org.

"Our school has put on plays containing mature themes before, with To Kill a Mockingbird (containing themes of rape, racism, and violence), The Cat and the Canary (in which a character was shown hanged and others shot on stage), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (blunt depictions of abuse in mental institutions)," says the on-line post, which is not attributed. The Laramie Project is no worse ( and likely more appropriate) than many plays we have put on in the past. Our drama department has the right to put on this production, and does not deserve to be the victim of injustice."

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