Tectonic Theater Project Returns to Laramie For Anniversary Reading of THE LARAMIE PROJECT

The performance will take place on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 PM at the University of Wyoming’s Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theater.

By: Sep. 26, 2023
Tectonic Theater Project Returns to Laramie For Anniversary Reading of THE LARAMIE PROJECT
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Original Tectonic Theater Project company members will travel back to Laramie, Wyoming to present a staged reading of their groundbreaking play, The Laramie Project to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the untimely death of Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998). Produced by Matthew Greenberg and Cecelia Aragon with WYOpen Stages and directed by Jeffrey LaHoste, the performance will take place on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 PM at the University of Wyoming’s Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theater (1000 E University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071). Earlier in the day, at 12 PM, “An Afternoon Conversation” with the memorial cast and creators of The Laramie Project will take place at the Arts and Sciences Auditorium (200 N 9th Street, Laramie, WY 82072). Tickets for the staged reading are available online here

“The Laramie Project has been a profound journey, one that has forever shaped my perspective on the power of storytelling,” said Moisés Kaufman. “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. Even after 25 years, the relevance of The Laramie Project remains strikingly poignant. The themes of hate, intolerance, and the consequences of prejudice continue to plague our society. 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 enduring relevance of The Laramie Project is undeniable, especially in a world marred by hatred and division that continues to try and hinder our progress towards equality,” said Judy Shepard. “However, it is the unwavering courage of the artists, who fearlessly delve into an emotional and occasionally contentious journey, that fuels my optimism and fuels my determination to persist in this vital advocacy work. As we approach the milestone of 25 years, during which we have successfully transformed countless hearts and minds globally, we not only celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of the foundation but also honor Matthew and his indelible legacy that continues to inspire us all.”

"We are grateful for Tectonic Theater Project and all our partners across campus and beyond for their help in telling this story. Matthew Shepard's murder still haunts Laramie, even 25 years later. 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. Laramie, Wyoming is my home and I'm proud to see how much has changed, yet, this performance can promote reflection on how to better promote equity for marginalized voices, presently,” said producer Matthew Greenberg, Department of Theater and Dance at the University of Wyoming. 

“The Laramie Project has had such a worldwide impact through its intimate and truthful perspective of the community of Laramie, Wyoming, 25 years ago. Presenting this piece in Laramie on such an important anniversary, signals our continued mission to spotlight contemporary inequities in order to promote transformative learning and engagement in the pursuit of justice. We are fortunate that the community of Laramie and especially 2SLGBTQIAP+ and marginalized communities in Laramie have the opportunity of this event available to them,” said Allison Gernant (she/her) and Koraline Wolfgang (they/them), Co-Chairs of the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice.

In October 1998, Matthew Shepard, a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming was kidnapped, severely beaten, and left tied to a fence in the middle of a prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming. His bloody, bruised, and battered body was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in an area hospital. Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half, in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people who lived at the epicenter of one of the nation’s most heinous anti-gay hate crimes. From these interviews and their own experiences in Laramie, Kaufman and Tectonic Theater Project company members created The Laramie Project, a deeply moving theatrical experience and one of the most frequently performed plays in America.

The Laramie Project 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 the Union Square Theatre in NYC before a November 2002 performance in Laramie, Wyoming. In 2002, The Laramie Project was adapted into a film written and directed by Moisés Kaufman with a star-studded cast, including Nestor Carbonell, Christina RicciDylan BakerLaura LinneyJoshua Jackson, Janeane Garafalo, and Lois Smith. It premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and was first broadcast on HBO in March 2002. Since its inception, The Laramie Project has been seen by an estimated 20 million people and performed on stages in more than 20 countries in 13 different languages. The play proliferated a positive view of queer visibility in pop culture and helped enact a Hate Crimes Prevention Act signed into effect by President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House attended by Kaufman and Matthew Shepard’s parents. 

The Laramie Project was written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, including Head Writer, Leigh Fondakowsk; Associate Writers  Greg PierottiStephen Belber, and Stephen Wangh; and Dramaturgs Amanda Gronich, Sara Lambert, John McAdamsMaude MitchellAndy ParisBarbara Pitts, and Kelli Simpkins.

The 25th Anniversary reading of The Laramie Project is sponsored by The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance, Tectonic Theater Project, The Shepard Symposium for Social Justice, Wyoming Arts Council, The University of Wyoming Honors College, The American Heritage Center and WYOpen Stages. 

For more information on Tectonic Theater Project, please visit TectonicTheaterProject.org


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