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Published September 28, 2023
Original Tectonic Theater Project company members are traveling back to Laramie and the University of Wyoming to participate in a staged reading of their groundbreaking play “The Laramie Project,” along with members of the campus and local community.
Produced by UW Department of Theatre and Dance faculty members Matthew Greenberg and Cecilia Aragón as part of the WYOpen Stages series -- and directed by Tectonic Theater Project co-founder Jeffrey LaHoste -- the performance will take place Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. on the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts main stage. A talkback will follow the reading.
Tickets are $8. A nominal processing fee will be charged for each ticket. To purchase tickets, visit the Performing Arts box office, call (307) 766-6666 or go online at www.tix.com/ticket-sales/uwyo/6984.
A conversation with the memorial cast and creators of “The Laramie Project,” open to all, will be held at noon Oct. 11 in UW’s College of Arts and Sciences auditorium as part of the 2023 Shepard Symposium on Social Justice. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.
The staged reading commemorates the 25th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old UW student who was kidnapped, beaten severely and left tied to a fence on the prairie outside of town. He later died from his injuries, the victim of an anti-gay hate crime so startling that it became a cultural flashpoint, forever connected to the Laramie community.
Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year-and-a-half to interview residents about Shepard’s murder and its aftermath. From these interviews and their own experiences in Laramie, they created “The Laramie Project,” a deeply moving theatrical experience and now one of the most frequently performed plays in America.
Since it was first staged in 2000, it has brought Shepard’s story to life in countless cities across the United States, educating audiences about the consequences of hate, intolerance and prejudice.
“The impact this play has had on the world is both humbling and awe-inspiring. It has ignited conversations, challenged prejudices and opened hearts in ways I could never have imagined,” Kaufman says. “Even after 25 years, the relevance of ‘The Laramie Project’ remains strikingly poignant ... It is a painful reminder that we must remain vigilant in our fight for equality and justice, ensuring that Matthew’s legacy lives on as a catalyst for change.”
The work premiered at the Ricketson Theatre by the Denver Center Theatre Company/Denver Center for the Performing Arts in February 2000. It was next performed in New York City’s Union Square Theatre before returning to Laramie in November 2002. Later that year, “The Laramie Project” was adapted into a film written and directed by Kaufman.
“Over dozens of years and thousands of performances, we hear the same thing over and over: ‘Laramie is like my town,’” LaHoste says. “The play is universal, but it also is a portrait, a snapshot of a particular community taken at a moment of vulnerability and grief … Revisiting this play with people now -- and here -- has been deeply moving. The words shared with us by the people of Laramie were a gift; they are the reason the play is read, studied and restaged all over the world.”
The UW production of “The Laramie Project” is sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Dance, Tectonic Theater Project, Shepard Symposium for Social Justice, Wyoming Arts Council, UW Honors College, UW American Heritage Center and WYOpen Stages.
“We are deeply privileged to share this work with a collaborative intention of diverse storytellers consisting of Tectonic Theater Project company members; University of Wyoming students, faculty and staff members; community members; and alumni of the university who were on campus in 1998,” Greenberg says. “Laramie is my home, and I’m proud to see how much has changed. Yet, this performance can promote reflection on how better to promote equity for marginalized voices presently.”