After returning for a week of seminars and workshops on creating theatre to inspire social change, the members of Artists Striving to End Poverty decided to produce the Laramie Project. The Laramie Project focuses on the aftermath of an anti-gay hate crime in the small college town of Laramie, Wyoming.
Matthew Shepard was just 21 years old when he was lured out of a bar, beaten and tied to a fence by two Laramie residents in 1998. Quickly word spread across the nation that the crime was motivated by the fact that Matthew was gay and and an outspoken member of a gay and lesbian organization at the university.
The event created a media frenzy and and outcry from LGBT activists. There were nationwide vigils for Matthew and protests in New York City. This caught the eye of the members of the New York based Tectonic Theatre Company. Led by Moises Kaufman, Tectonic Theatre Company travelled Laramie and began interviewing laramie locals, professors, police officers, clegymen and more for information on the events. From the inteviews and experiences, this piece of theatre was devised.
This play continues to be performed decades later because the underlying themes still ring true. Though there has been a shift in the recent years toward a majority of acceptance of LGBT people, still that violent hatred existing kids being isolated and bullied for being gays. In the south and predominantly religious communities like Laramie, people are still preaching that homosexuality is a sin. So this play is put on as a reminder of when bigotry can turn violent.
The Laramie Project will run April 21st -23rd with 7pm shows thursday the 21 and Friday 22 and Saturday 2pm as well as a 7pm show.Tickets are $5, proceeds going to ASTEP and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.