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The Laramie Project Proposal for Theater Space

The Laramie Project Proposal for Theater Space

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Published by Jason Wong
Project Proposal for space at the Agassiz Theater at Harvard University.
Project Proposal for space at the Agassiz Theater at Harvard University.

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Published by: Jason Wong on May 10, 2008
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01/08/2013

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HARVARD COLLEGE
The Laramie Project 
By Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic TheaterProject 
Jason Wong, DirectorHessel Yntema, ProducerPete Kulalert, Assistant Director and Production AdvisorTruc Doan, Stage ManagerJan Luksic, Set DesignerLymaira Reyes, Assistant Set DesignerPaul Sawyier, Lighting DesignerSonya Mollinger, House Manager and Assistant Lighting DesignerMoonlit Wang, Costume DesignerSamuel Stuntz, Sound DirectorKarla Reyes, Support Staff Grace Laubaucher, Set Advisor5/5/2008
This document contains an updated staff list (Page 1) and artistic statements from most of the staff (Pages 2 through 8).
 
Page | 2
Jason Wong,
 
Director:Production Summary
 On the night of October 6th, 1998, Matthew Shepard was forcefully taken to an areaoutside of Laramie, Wyoming, tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and left to die. Matthew passedaway a few days later from head injuries related to his beating.
The Laramie Project 
is a verymoving and powerful docudrama that explores the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard
on the Laramie community years after the crime. The production doesn’t seek to simulate the
 jarring events that happened that night. Rather, the play seeks to explore this event through theeyes of those who were closest to Matthew, the Laramie community, and from this perspective
allow the audience to examine the circumstances surrounding Matthew’s murder.
 
The Laramie Project 
, written based on interviews with the citizens of Laramie, attempts topiece together the sociological fa
bric that led to Matthew’s death. It also attempts to analyze what
has happened to this fabric after his death. In so doing, the production sheds light on the blatantprejudices against gays, and the battle against those deeply entrenched prejudices.
Artistic Vision
 The audience will be presented with two messages: First, the audience will be presentedwith
The Laramie Project’s
exploration of prejudice, tragedy, and community. In effect, the entireplay can be said to represent the trial of the Laramie community itself and the circumstances thatled to this tragedy. Evidence is presented in the form of eyewitness accounts (the interviews), andthe audience members are allowed to analyze and decide for themselves how to respond to issuesof prejudice and equality. In effect, they are treated as the jurors in this case about a tragic event
and its effect on a community. Ultimately, when Matthew’s father asks the court to have mercy onhis son’s murderers, he is recognizing the greater importance of society’s examination of its ownprejudices. A portion of Mr. Shepard’s monologue reads, “Matt’s beating, hospitalization, andfuneral focused worldwide attention on hate. Good is coming out of evil.”
Second, many of the prejudices that this play explores are stereotypically attributed towhite people in middle and rural America. Our production will accentuate its larger multicultural
objective to emphasize the idea that stereotypes and prejudices don’t belong to any one group.
The diverse cast will help challenge the conception that the problems of any two groups of peopleare unconnected. Matthew Shepard could easily have been a minority or another kind of outcast.Additionally, the perpetrators of this crime could easily have been one of us. In this manner wehope to underline some of what we see as the key objectives of productions such as
The LaramieProject 
: the desire to expose the truth and the desire to act as a medium for change.All of the characters in this show represent real people, whether we agree with theirparticular viewpoints or not. They all have their own histories, political beliefs, religions, viewpoints,and prejudices. These characters are more complex than the typical character archetypes used inmany productions. A major goal for this production will be to emphasize character developmentover complex set designs, sounds, and other theatrics. By challenging our actors to explore their
own prejudices, and each of their character’s prejudices and histories and emphasizing
these
 
Page | 3
characters with set, costume, light and sound, we hope to create complex characters that audiencemembers can relate with. Human nature is the major exploration of this play. Our production staff has discussed the intensive light work relative to other productions that we will have to utilize as animportant means by which to develop the environment surrounding the actor.The foremost goal of any production is to provide an interesting experience for theaudience. On the other hand, this production is also inextricably linked with an important analysisof social prejudice. One of the challenges between these two objectives in a production such as thiswill be to coordinate
The Laramie Project’s
thoughtful sociological presentation with the audien
ce’s
conceptions of entertainment and persuasion. This is to say a great indicator of success for thisproduction will involve the audience not merely viewing the play, but also responding and reactingto it. We hope that by breaking the fourth wall, the audience will become less passive and more
engaged in analyzing the issues in this play. This production isn’t meant to just be another night at
the theater.
Why the Agassiz
 After careful consideration of the various performances spaces and venues available atHarvard, we have determined that the Agassiz is one of our top two choices for this production.The Agassiz is an important theater space for us for many reasons: primarily, we believe that theAgassiz offers us a balance of both intimacy and separation with the audience. Members of our
production staff with history in the Agassiz have indicated that it’s relatively simple and quick to get
actors in position in the audience. The proscenium offers us an area exclusively for the actors tocreate the environment. Our ability to intermingle with the audience will allow us to bring thestage environment to them. It will be important for us to break down the fourth wall that existsbetween the audience and a traditional proscenium stage. Our actors will be able to sit with theaudience in empty seats and/or next to them in the stairways for important scenes such as thefuneral scene, and the singing of Amazing Grace. We want the audience to feel as if they are a partof the production itself. The artistic merit of establishing a direct relationship with the audience willallow us to help the audience take ownership of the play we create.
Why
The Laramie Project 
Our project will be really meaningful for many reasons. First, the topic matter of thisproduction is important and different from most other productions at Harvard; it provides athoughtful analysis of the effects and persistence of prejudice. Secondly, it is significant to note
that we will approach Matthew Shepard’s tenth year anniversar
y this October, and
The LaramieProject 
has yet to be introduced to the Harvard community. We want to bring this story to Harvard,and we think that its introduction here is long overdue. Finally, we hope to use this production as aspringboard for further discussion and interest into the examination of other kinds of prejudice anddiscriminat
ion. We noted earlier that “
Matthew Shepard could easily have been a minority oranother kind of outcast. Additionally, the perpetrators of this crime could easily have been one of 
us.” We would also like to note that prejudice and discrimination can also come in many forms, not
 just with violence but also in more subtle ways. Our company hopes to add to this discussion with

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