“The Laramie Project” is based on the death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., in October, 1998. Shepard was victimized in a hate crime because of his sexual orientation. A month after the violent tragedy, members of New York’s Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie and interviewed the people of the town. From these interviews, they wrote the play “The Laramie Project.”
“Theatre can provide a safe space to talk about things that might otherwise be hard to talk about, or give us perspectives that we haven’t thought of, or just help us consider our beliefs in new ways,” says Diana Trotter, theatre professor and director of “The Laramie Project” at Whitworth.
The play is a unique and challenging docudrama in which each actor must play a variety of roles. The script is composed of actual interviews, court transcripts and media reports, which are delivered verbatim, giving authenticity to the voices of the characters in the story.
“We want to tell this story with as much integrity and authenticity as possible,” says Trotter. “And I hope that everyone -- myself, the cast and crew, the audiences -- is moved by the story, challenged by the questions that the play raises.”
Because of the subject matter and the play’s adherence to actual events, “The Laramie Project” is not suitable for children. It contains profanity that may be considered offensive by some.
Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, was a guest speaker at Whitworth in fall 2011, speaking on “The Message of Matthew.” She and her husband founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, to honor the memory of their son.
The television film version of “The Laramie Project” was awarded four Emmy nominations, The National Board of Review Award for Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie, and a Golden Bear Award, from the Berlin Film Festival.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Jennifer Toulouse-Lee, theatre department program assistant, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or email@example.com.