Recommendation: The Laramie Project

If you have never seen the play “The Laramie Project,” I hereby insist that you see it. For those unfamiliar with it, The Laramie Project is a play written by the Tectonic Theater Project after conducting hundreds of interviews in Laramie, Wyoming, following the brutal beating of Matthew Shepard in 1998. The play chronically life in the town of Laramie during the year following the murder.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing a local university production. Pleasure may not be the correct word, however, as it’s an emotionally draining play. The cast of eight actors all play multiple roles, from friends, to law enforcement, the accused, to the family. I’m not one to cry during theater peformances, but I felt a few tears.

I had seen the play many years ago at a small local theater. I know that it was prior to 2003, and I’m pretty sure I was in middle school. The first time I saw it, I was shocked by the use of the words “faggot” and “dyke,” but also thrilled to know that gay people existed everywhere. This time I was struck by how much a tragedy affects an entire community. Just as studies on larger human rights violations often end in an exploration of the aftermath that the entire community must face, The Laramie Project explores how one event can change the course of a town.

I don’t want to give away too much more. The Laramie Project is one of the most performed plays in American. Find a production near you. If that fails, check out the film based on the play. Or check out the script from your local library. It’s worth it. I promise.

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