As NIDA’s Class of 2006 prepares to leave the Kensington campus of the national acting school after three years of study, the graduates are presenting their newly honed performing skills in four provocative plays.

The season, which began last week at the Parade Theatres with the premieres of Closer and Shopping And F***ing, also includes two dramas, The Boys and The Laramie Project, which premiere this week.

For Sunny Vrevac, one of the actors in The Laramie Project, the subject of the play is particularly poignant. He explains that only a matter of months ago, one of his fellow classmates was bashed on Oxford Street.

My friend put up a good fight and he did manage to get away, but I am always astounded by that stuff, Sunny says. I figure that if people don’t like Oxford Street, why do they go there to cause trouble?

Some of that has been in my mind as I worked on this play, for the subject it deals with.

The Laramie Project was inspired by the brutal gay hate killing of Matthew Shepard in 1998, when the college student was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead, tied to a fence on the outskirts of his hometown in Laramie, Wyoming.

The play was first performed in 2000, and is based on over 200 interviews with Laramie inhabitants and their reaction to the horrific event which put their town on the world map.

Each member of the cast plays a number of roles, based on the real people of Laramie. Included in Sunny’s range of characters are a doctor, priest, reporter, university student and an outraged email writer.

It is interesting that in the year this happened, there were 22 gay-hate murders in the US, so this was something present in their society, Sunny says. The play unravels the structure and thread work of this little community and forces people to question their values and ask some difficult questions in a place where privacy is sacred.

The people of Laramie liked to see themselves as understanding and tolerant, but there is also a hidden agenda, as there is in any community, and that is what the play examines. If anything, it shows that small thoughts and small actions can lead to much bigger things.

The Laramie Project opens 13 October at the Parade Theatres, Anzac Parade, Kensington. For details on all the NIDA graduation plays visit the NIDA website. Bookings on 132 849.

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