Interview with ‘Laramie’ Priest: Ryan Barry

Interview with ‘Laramie’ Priest: Ryan Barry

Proud Mary Theatre Company launches its fourth season on October 6 with the 20th anniversary production of The Laramie Project, the powerful and award-winning play by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project about the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1998.

The Laramie Project will be presented as a Theatrical Documentary Experience available for streaming Tuesday, October 6, 2020 on the 22nd anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s attack in Laramie, Wyoming, and ending on October 12, the day Shepard died and became a martyr for hate crime legislation and the gay rights movement in the United States.

Suggested donation of $10 for unlimited streaming. More info is available at proudmarytheatre.com.

Ryan Barry (Jedadiah Schultz / Father Roger Schmit / Jeffrey Lockwood / Newsperson #4 / Priest / Juror #4)Ryan is honored to be part of this production! Ryan made his debut with the Proud Mary Theatre with the virtual online production of Blue Camp. He was in Tryon Little Theatre’s production of Bright Star as Max and played over a dozen roles in The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time. Last summer he performed with The Upstate Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Tempest as Stephano in Greenville’s Falls Park. You may have also seen Ryan in Spartanburg Little Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None as Doctor Armstrong. He has also appeared in Spartanburg Little Theatre’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher as Mrs. Bumbrake/Teacher, Disney’s The Little Mermaid as Scuttle. He is a USC Upstate graduate with a degree in theatre. He would like to thank Ben Dawkins, his family and all his friends for their wonderful support.

Why did you audition for THE LARAMIE PROJECT?

-The reason I joined The Laramie Project was to simply tell the truth! To present an accurate portrayal of the hate and violence that still goes on to this very day in America.

How does the murder of Matthew Shepard affect you personally?

-The murder of Matthew Shepard, to me, makes me cringe every time I hear about this terrible crime. How it affected me personally is that from listening and reading from the interviews that the playwright and the company presents in the play is that there is a lesson that needs to be taught to generation after generation that just because someone looks differently than you or thinks differently than you doesn’t mean you should be angry at them. You should learn how to accept them as who they are and how they feel in order to understand that if they need help, you help them. That is what a human being needs to do!

What is the allure of The Laramie Project as an actor?

– The Laramie Project, for me as an actor, is an interesting character study of people and their surroundings. The characters are all conducted from over two hundred interviews during the two years after the murder. From the viewers perspective you get to see how they interact with the other people and how they give you a structure of their environment.

What roles so you play in Laramie?

-The roles I play in Laramie are Jedediah Schultz, Jeffery Lockwood, Father Roger Schmit, Newsperson #4, Priest, and Juror #4.

When did you first learn of Matthew Shepard?

-It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I first heard about this play and about the murder of Matthew Shepard. My first thoughts were after I saw the photograph of Matthew that I thought to myself “Why would someone hurt this boy?” and “Why are people so cruel?”.

What have you learned from this play since you first began rehearsals?

-I learned after the first rehearsals began that this was going to be a great collaboration of some of the best theatre artists in the Upstate.

What can you tell is about your experiences in virtual theatre? And this hybrid virtual/in-person rehearsal process?

From the virtual experience it took some adjusting but I managed to follow through and work like any other rehearsal. I’ll admit not having to move in space or interacting with a cast mate in person does find it to be challenging but I think it works for this piece of theatre. 

Obviously, streaming is not Live Theatre, but what do you hope people can still learn from this unique production of The Laramie Project?

-I hope people will watch and listen and ask themselves ” How do we as a society make you to be the best person that you can be?” and see where that takes you.

Directed by Ben Dawkins, The Laramie Project features an amazing diverse cast of 14 Upstate actors in some 60 roles: Ryan Barry, Michele Colletti, Ava Davis, Jonathan Davis, Kelly Davis, Doug Egge, Samantha Eyler, Darryl Harmon, Jim Huber, Dave LaPage, Rebecca Schledwitz, Tyler Smith, Audrey Waldrop and Chase Wolfe. Ashley Zimmerman is stage manager.

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