The Ole Miss theater department’s production of “The Laramie Project” on Tuesday night at the Meek Auditorium was disrupted by a group of rude students.
Many of whom, reportedly, were members of the Rebels football team, according to thedmonline.com.
An estimated 20 Ole Miss football players “openly disrespected and disrupted” the production, according to the report. Members of the audience became so disruptive that the actors and actresses even struggled completing the production. Some audience members used derogatory slurs, said the play’s director and theater faculty member Rory Ledbetter, who called it “borderline hate speech.”
“The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night,” Ledbetter added. “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.”
Things got so disruptive that the play’s house director, Lyda Phillips, reportedly called a football coach, who then called a member of the athletic department to come to the auditorium. When the department member arrived after the second act of the play, the football players apologized to the cast.
“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.”
One football player apologized on behalf of the team and it caused two cast members to cry. The players were in attendance because they are enrolled in a freshman-level theater course and are required to attend a certain number of plays, according to the report.
The Ole Miss athletics department issued no comment.
“I am extremely sorry to hear that this happened,” said Ole Miss Dean of Students Sparky Reardon. “We are still looking into the specifics to determine what happened.”