Hastings High School’s drama club is about ready to produce its winter play. “The Laramie Project” will be on stage Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Feb. 10, 11 and 13.
Unfortunately, the high school drama club's winter production captured the attention of Kansas's best known public nuisances, the blue-nosed, crusading membership of Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church.
Update 2/13: The Kansas haters were no-shows in Hastings today. Read about it in Hundreds rally to support drama club in Westboro Baptist (no show) showdown [end update].
Andy Birkey reports in ‘God Hates Fags’ headed to Hastings, Fargo; counter-protests planned:
Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church and God Hates Fags fame is headed to Hastings this weekend and Fargo next weekend to protest showings of the Laramie Project. Counter-protests are already being organized in both cities. . . .
. . .The Hastings counter-protest is planned for Sunday, Feb. 13 from 1 to 4pm.
Here’s the Westboro Baptist Church schedule and its comment about each protest:
Hastings High School in Hastings, MN February 13, 2011 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM
WBC to picket yet another showing of The Laramie Project. A fag propaganda play about Matt Shepard. He has been in hell for 12 years now. Judy Shepard raised her son to be a disobedient drug using pervert, and God cut that child off. His blood is on her hands! From that day to this Judy Shepard has spent all her resources on teaching the young people of this nation the same rebellion that caused God to cut off her own son – and makes a hefty profit off of it! Shame on her for making money off of a child who is dead at her hands! Run from the lies told in this play – your never dying soul depends upon it! You will join Matt in hell if you follow/believe in these lies. Your destruction is imminent! Obey or Perish! . . .
If only bothering high school kids were the worst thing Phelps' brood has done. But nope: these are the thimblewits who picket the funerals of American service members killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, deaths that the church members say are God's wrath on a nation that is nice to gay and lesbian people.
Gay-friendly theater isn't particularly a novel idea for Greater Minnesota. "The Boys in the Band" was staged at Mankato State (now Minnesota State University at Mankato) when this crabby old hag was still in high school.
In addition to the Facebook event in Birkey's post, other groups are rallying to support the student actors. The director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) sent out the following email:
Hastings High School students are currently presenting the very powerful and moving play “The Laramie Project.” Unfortunately, the extremist group led by Fred Phelps, is planning to protest Sunday's show at 2:00.
These students have worked hard to launch this powerful show AGAINST hate so supporters of the students and of the theater project are asking for additional supporters to come out, enjoy the performance and let the protesters know that they are not effective. (These are the same people who have sent protesters to the burials of soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
If you are able, please attend the performance and show your support to these incredible High School kids who are trying to make a difference.
Please consider taking some time to let the kids know they're alright. The Patriot Guard motorcycle club shields mourners at military funerals from the pickets; perhaps the Twin Cities theater community can provide an equally creative sidewalk performance in support of the students.
Photo: The spot where Matt Shepard was mortally injured; the slight young man later died in the hospital. Via the Hastings Theater website.