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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.
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 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