The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

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Tackling tough topics

A+breakdown+of+where+censorship+commonly+occurs.%0A
Used with permission from the American Library Association
A breakdown of where censorship commonly occurs.

In only the first seven months of 2023, 3,923 titles were targeted for censorship with almost 2,000 non-repeated titles. One of the most common reasons why; LGBTQIA+ content. Despite this, the WHHS theater department has not shied away from producing LGBTQIA+ productions such as the Laramie Project this theater season. 

“I think it [the banning of the Laramie Project] comes from the sensitivity of the topic,” actor Theo Davis, ‘23, said. “I think that a lot of people find themselves uncomfortable when they have to recognize that this is something that happened and something that continues to happen in our country.”

The production is based on interviews completed by the Tectonic Theater Company after the murder of Mathew Shepard, a gay college student at the University of Wyoming. Davis will be playing Steven Belber, a member of the Tectonic Theater Company. He will also be playing Dave O’ Malley, the leading investigator in Matthew Shepard’s murder in addition to a few smaller roles.

“From an actor’s perspective, I think that you have to approach it [by] trying to emulate emotions that I personally have never felt before,” Davis said. “I have never had to come to terms with personal homophobia, so I think it approaches personal topics that I personally have never experienced which makes it a unique show to perform.”

Another one of the actors is Andrew Canter, ‘25, who will be playing Jedadiah Schultz, a theater student at the University of Wyoming, as well as many other smaller roles.

“I think it’s important to portray the Laramie Project in a way that isn’t standoffish. You don’t want to force it, because then it’s not going to be impactful,” Canter said. “If you perform it in a way that it’s only appealing to people that would already hear this and be like, ‘that’s awful,’ it’s impactful to them but it should also be impactful to maybe people’s grandparents that might have heard about this and fallen victim to the conspiracy theory that is center stage in this production. That it was not a hate crime [which was]spread around Laramie after [the murder].”

The Laramie Project has been banned from many schools across the country including some in Kansas, New Jersey, Iowa and Florida.

“I think that [censoring the Laramie Project] is just an attempt to censor a fact of existence for gay people,  there is a fear that something like this could happen [to them],” Davis said. “[Some people] don’t want to think about it, because it shows that homophobia is very real, and a lot of people want to write it off as a thing of the past.” 

While the Laramie Project is one of the most banned plays in high school productions, its message continues to be spread by schools such as WHHS who are willing to produce it and share it’s message with the audience. 

“I hope that they [the audience] recognize that this is a real issue,” Davis said. “The point of the show is that sometimes people try and rewrite history in a way that is disingenuous to real events, so I hope people walk away knowing that this is something that can happen and has happened and continues to really happen.”

 

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About the Contributor
Selby Lin, Section Editor of Fine Arts
In her first year as a Chatterbox staff member, Selby Lin is very excited to work as a Fine Arts Section Editor. She is very passionate about fine arts and is excited to cover all fine arts from theater, to visual arts, and music. Her goal for this year is to increase student interest in fine arts through her writing. While Lin currently doesn't have any journalism experience, she is very excited for this amazing opportunity and looks forward to learning about the Chatterbox. Some of her extracurriculars include taekwondo, being a member of a FLL (First Lego League) robotics team, as well as a member of WHHS Orchestra Program. Other things Lin loves to do in her free-time are hiking with her family and reading.  Lin loves animals and hopes to study veterinary medicine at college and become a small animal internist.
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