‘The Laramie Project’

From GCC Theater Arts

Mainstage Theater

EVENING PERFORMANCES:

April 24-26, May 1-3 and 8-10 at 8 p.m.

SUNDAY MATINEES

April 27, May 4 and May 11 at 2 p.m.

THE STORY:

In October 1998 a 21 year-old student at the University of Wyoming was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming.

His bloody, bruised and battered body was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in an area hospital. His name was Matthew Shepard, and he was the victim of this assault because he was gay.

Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year-and-a-half in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, and others were citizens of Laramie, and the breadth of their reactions to the crime is fascinating.

Kaufman and Tectonic Theater members have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences. The Laramie Project is a breathtaking theatrical collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink, and the heights of compassion of which human beings are also capable.

From the Author:

The Laramie Project was written through a unique collaboration by Tectonic Theater Project. During the year-and-a-half development of the play, members of the company and I traveled to Laramie six times to conduct interviews with the people of the town. We transcribed and edited the interviews, then conducted several workshops in which the members of the company presented material and acted as dramaturgs in the creation of the play…

…There are moments in history when a particular event brings the various ideologies and beliefs prevailing in a culture into sharp focus. At these junctures, the event becomes a lightning rod of sorts, attracting and distilling the essence of these philosophies and convictions. By paying careful attention in moments like this to people’s words, one is able to hear the way these prevailing ideas affect not only individual lives but also the culture at large.

…The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard was … (an) … event of this kind. In its immediate aftermath, the nation launched into a dialogue that brought to the surface how we think and talk about homosexuality, sexual politics, education, class, violence, privileges and rights, and the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

…The idea for The Laramie Project originated in my desire to learn more about why Matthew Shepard was murdered; about what happened that night; about the town of Laramie. The idea of listening to the citizens talk really interested me. How is Laramie different from the rest of the country and how is it similar?

The experience of working on The Laramie Project has been one of great sadness, great beauty and, perhaps most importantly, great revelations – about our nation, about our ideas, about ourselves.