Sierra Stages and the Miners Foundry present a Reading of THE LARAMIE PROJECT

Sierra Stages and the Miners Foundry present a Reading of THE LARAMIE PROJECT

On Wednesday, May 10, Sierra Stages and the Miners Foundry present a reading of "THE LARAMIE PROJECT" as part of "Theater By The Book," a series of informal play readings for the community. Written by Moises Kaufman and the Members of the Tectonic Theater Project and directed by Sharon Winegar, "THE LARAMIE PROJECT" is the deeply moving reaction to the 1998 murder of university student Matthew Shepard outside of Laramie, Wyoming.

Since its first performance in February 2000, "THE LARAMIE PROJECT" has become a modern classic and one of the most-performed theater pieces in America. The play is based upon more than 200 interviews conducted by Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project during a series of six visits to Laramie in the aftermath of Shepard's murder. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, some were friends or acquaintances of Shepard, some had no personal connection to Shepard at all. The breadth of the reactions to the murder is fascinating and the resulting play is an extraordinary chronicle of life in a small town in the wake of an event that shocked the nation.

"I had the good fortune of seeing a production of 'THE LARAMIE PROJECT' at Napa Valley College several years ago," says director Sharon Winegar. "It moved me the way great stories do - it compelled me to think about human nature, to consider the way people treat one another. It made me examine my own reactions to people who seem 'different' from me."

Unlike most plays, "THE LARAMIE PROJECT" is not told from a single point-of-view. Instead, it is an amalgam of observations, opinions, court records, and personal anecdotes. As a result, it is as much about the character of a town as it is about the specific event.

In the play, a small group of actors is called upon to portray more than 60 characters in a series of short scenes. For the "Theater by the Book" reading, the cast includes local Nevada County actors Cathy Callas, Robin Callas, Kevin Deppe, Ariel Elliot, Lois Masten Ewing, Scott Ewing, John Gardiner, Alexis Gross, Ben Hedenland, Jeffrey Mason, and David Painter.

It was important to Winegar to have a diverse group of actors, ranging in both age and experience, to reflect the wide array or characters portrayed in the play. Among the cast members for the reading are former Nevada Union High School students taught by Winegar, several actors that she has directed or appeared with onstage in local productions dating back to the days of The Foothill Theater Company, and a few actors that she has admired from afar and has been wanting to work with.

Even though "THE LARAMIE PROJECT" premiered almost twenty years ago, the play remains incredibly timely and an important theater piece. "The 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard still resonates with us because hate crimes still exist," says Winegar. "Art provides a means to grapple with such issues, to examine the myriad thoughts and emotions attendant upon senseless tragedies. Art can be a wake-up call for our society."

"THE LARAMIE PROJECT" will be performed at the historic Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City. Admission is FREE, with a $10 suggested donation. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the reading begins at 7:30 p.m. Information may be found at www.minersfoundry.org.

Sierra Stages is a nonprofit community theatre based in western Nevada County with a mission to provide quality productions that are affordable and accessible to everyone. Since it began eight years ago, Sierra Stages has presented 31 plays and musicals and almost as many play readings. This summer Sierra Stages will present the hit musical "CHICAGO" at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City from July 13 through August 5. And, "Theater by the Book" will return with another play reading at the Miners Foundry in September. Information about Sierra Stages and its productions may be found at www.SierraStages.org.

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