I’m a big fat liar, and I’m going back on my promise to never speak of this production again and doing just that. Just a reminder, show goes up December 9th, 10th and 11th in the Westby Blackbox until further notice. There may or may not be some tiny adjustments in time and locations. But, until then, save the date.
The Laramie Project (Affectionately labeled “The Derp-amie Project by the cast) is a play by Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project about the reaction to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student in Laramie, Wyoming. After being denounced as a homophobic hate crime, the murder managed to shed some light on the lack of hate crime laws in various states across the country, including Wyoming.
The play is compiled of hundreds of interviews gathered by the individual members of the theatre company (Leigh Fondakowski, Stephen Belber, Greg Pierotti, Barbara Pitts, Stephen Wangh, Amanda Gronich, Sara Lambert, John McAdams, Maude Mitchell, Andy Paris, and Kelli Simpkins) from over sixty residents of the small Wyoming town.
“Then two days later I found out the connection and I was very…struck. They were two kids. They were both my patients and they were two kids. I took care of both of them, of both their bodies. And for a brief moment I wondered if this is how God feels when he looks down at us. How we are all his kids. And I felt a great deal of compassion for both of them.” -Dr. Cataway, The Laramie Project.
High in drama and tragedy, The Laramie Project acknowledges controversial themes such as the cruelty contained in all human beings, released through the questionable, double-sided nature of hate crimes. The director hopes to inspire questions such as the difference between “victim” and “victimized”, as well the media’s potential desire to portray every gay violence victim as a saintlike martyr in a modern day religious crusade.
“…It is so stark and so empty and you can’t help but think of Matthew out there for eighteen hours in nearly freezing temperatures. With that view up there, isolated, the ‘God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ comes to mind.” – Stephen Mead Johnson, The Laramie Project.
This production’s choice to feature Matthew Shepard as the narrator is in hope of prodding some heady comparisons of his slaying to Christ’s crucifixion (get your picket signs ready), as well as to the catalytic and oftentimes accidentally tragic establishments of countless human rights leaders of the past. What did Shepard do for the Gay Rights movement if not not die for the cause? Or was he merely victimized by media portrayal? Audiences will watch the coin flip constantly throughout the production by characters of contrasting opinions and finally be left to choose for themselves.
“Everybody’s got problems, but why they exemplified him, I don’t know. What’s the difference it you’re gay? A hate crime is a hate crime. If you murder somebody, you hate ’em. It has nothing to do with if you’re gay, or a prostitute, or whatever. I don’t understand.” – Sherry Johnson, The Laramie Project.