First stop, Wyoming

Bryhanna Greenough speaks with director Chris Fry about The Laramie Project

Chris Fry and his friends make up a group who want to break the stereotype of youth theatre as After School Special. They are tired of the morals, the pithy lessons, and the stories about being popular. And you probably won’t catch them launching a production of Hair or Romeo and Juliet any time soon.

…They want the real shit.

Fry wanted to prove it is possible for young people to put on a quality, entertaining show and handle subject matter you might not expect from people their age.

This past March they officially set up shop and formed their own production company, Janus Productions — named after a double-faced Roman god symbolizing beginnings and endings.

When Fry made a casting call earlier this year, over 50 people auditioned. The youngest actor was only 15 years old when she joined the cast and another is 23. Some members are still in high school while others have started university.

The need for something like Janus Productions became apparent to Fry when he and his friend Kayla Hussey put on a show for a high school drama festival in 2005. The content of their show seemed more serious than a lot of high school entries.

“A lot of times high school drama resorts to bubble gum pieces that aren’t reflective of the talent young people have to offer,” says Fry.

For their first show as a company, the Janus crew picked a play with heft to it. Moisés Kaufman’s The Laramie Project is the story of a 21-year-old gay university student who was the victim of a hate crime in 1998. The script draws from over 200 actual interviews with residents of the small town in the months following the crime.

“It’s a very emotionally trying piece, both for the actor and for the audience,” says Fry.

In the Janus production of the play, the cast of nine actors will manifest over 60 different characters throughout the course of the show, as a way to explore different attitudes towards homosexuality.

“The messages involved aren’t isolated to a small town in Wyoming,” says Fry. “They are messages that could carry a lot of weight here in St. John’s.”

See The Laramie Project at the LSPU Hall on Thursday ( 8pm), Friday (8pm), Saturday (1pm) and Sunday (1pm & 8pm). Tickets are $13 and $10 for students and seniors. For more ticket information, call LSPU Hall at 753-4531.

Besides The Laramy Project, two more productions are in the works. If you want to get involved, check out this website for more information: janusproductions.com

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