Last November, The Country Day School was fortunate to host actor and writer Kelli Simpkins for five days of workshops and rehearsals with CDS drama students and members of the cast of the upcoming Senior School production of The Laramie Project taking place Feb. 28-March 2.
Recognized for her roles in Chasing Amy (1997) and A League of Their Own (1992), Kelli was also a cast member in the Tectonic Theatre Project’s original production of The Laramie Project. Kelli is passionate about her experience with The Laramie Project and the national conversation it started 20 years ago calling for tolerance and acceptance. Today, these themes seem more compelling than ever in a world beset by cruelty, indifference and prejudice.
While at CDS, Kelli attended daily Laramie Project rehearsals, helping to shed light on this complex play and multiple characters. She also spent time working with our students on Moment Work, a system for creating theatre developed by The Tectonic Theatre Project that requires actors “to interrogate how a play is made, piece by piece (or moment by moment),” an important skill for such a multi-faceted production.
Now living in Chicago, Kelli is an outspoken member of the LGBTQ+ community. She spoke with the students about the importance of launching a play like The Laramie Project and its role in educating people about how hateful acts shown toward members of any group who are perceived to be different impact the communities we all live in. She told the students that they are not only helping to honour Matthew Shepard by sharing his story, but helping to create a more accepting world around them.