On Saturday, just hours before their first performance in front of an audience, the Brunswick High School Theatre Company rehearsed in the lobby of their hotel in Augusta, using lobby furniture as a makeshift set.

Due to Hurricane Matthew, the one-act team didn’t have the chance to practice much in the days before the Georgia Theatre Conference competition, a four-day contest that took place this past weekend.

“It was scary enough that it kicked them into gear,” said Lucy Lynn Bryson, the one-act coach at Brunswick High. “It negatively impacted us, but that’s just merely because of repetition. They hadn’t been together in almost two weeks … But they certainly ran with it and did a great job.”

The team received a rating of “Excellent,” the second best on the competition’s scale, and actor Shamia Taylor was awarded an All Star Acting Award, which was given out to only 10 of the 200 actors in the competition.

The four-day competition included some of the best theater programs in the state, Bryson said.

“Just being there and doing it was a pretty big deal,” she said. “This was the first time Brunswick High has competed in this competition.”

The students have been working since August on their production of “The Laramie Project,” a historical, documentary-style production that tells the story of the murder of Matthew Shepard and its aftermath on his community.

“This story is one that can be difficult to tell. It definitely hits those emotional notes,” Bryson said. “For our students, they weren’t even alive with the Matthew Shepard killing occurred. This is a new idea for them. Nonetheless, you can see what a lasting impact this drama has had on them. It has that same effect on audiences, as well.”

On Nov. 14, 1998, after 21-year-old Shepard was kidnapped and murdered, members of the Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie, Wyo., where they spent two years conducting hundreds of interviews with the town’s residents and crafted that work into a play.

The attention drawn from these events led to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.

The students will share the production with the general public this week, performing shows at 7:30 p.m. today, Wednesday and Thursday at the Brunswick High theater. Tickets will be sold before the show at the door. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.

Due to the play’s heavy subject matter, Bryson recommends that only ages 13 years and older attend the show.

The one-act team will compete in the region competition this Saturday at BHS, where they will host three other schools, including Glynn Academy.