Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ole Miss freshman football players so abusive during Laramie Project performance that play's director had to call athletic department honcho to auditorium

Ensign Beedrill, Flickr
About 20 freshman Ole Miss football players, attending a student production of The Laramie Project, about the death of Matthew Shepard, were the ringleaders of disruptive hecking of the cast, according to Adam Banucheau, of the Daily Mississippian.
     According to the play’s director and theater faculty member Rory Ledbetter, some audience members used derogatory slurs like “fag” and heckled both cast members and the characters they were portraying for their body types and sexual orientations. Ledbetter said the audience’s reactions included “borderline hate speech.”
     ...The play’s House Director Lyda Phillips, who is a theater major and an athletics ambassador, became aware of the reactions of the football players and called a coach, who then called department of athletics Associate Director of Academic Support Drew Clinton to come to the auditorium, according to the theater department’s performance report.
     “The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night,” Ledbetter said. “But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too. It seemed like they didn’t know that they were representing the university when they were doing these things.”
     ...“The football players were asked by the athletics department to apologize to the cast,” Ole Miss Theatre Department Chair Rene Pulliam said. “However, I’m not sure the players truly understood what they were apologizing for.”
     The football players’ apology, which was given by one undisclosed football player on behalf of the entire group, caused two cast members to cry.
     ...The play ran Thursday through Sunday last week, and no incident like Tuesday’s occurred.
From USA Today:
     ...Michael Barnett, assistant chair of theater arts at the school and also chair of the Ole Miss faculty senate, said by phone Wednesday that athletes from other sports including men's basketball, baseball, golf and track were also in attendance.
     ...Garrison Gibbons, a 20-year old acting major at Ole Miss who was in the play, said by phone Thursday the atmosphere at Tuesday's performance was "radically different" from other performances and that actors had heard gay slurs from the audience and laughter at moments in the play that weren't intended to be funny, including a funeral scene.
     ...He said the cast was later told after the play's second act that the group of football players in the audience were going to apologize after the show.     The cast, however, did not believe the apology was sincere, Gibbons said.
     "One spoke up and said they were sorry and didn't mean to hurt our feelings," Gibbons said.
     "Another said they found humor in the play and then they were gone and the academic advisor who was with them basically said they had never been to a play before and didn't know what to expect."
     AKSARBENT thinks that Ole Miss athletes who yelled fag or faggot should flunk the class, not allowed to enter the college theater again, and instead of a theater appreciation class, be compelled to take a calculus class as many times as it takes them to pass.

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