‘Laramie Project’ Revisits 15-Year-Old Tradgedy
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 16:10
Autumn is off to a strong start, and so is the area theatre scene’s fall season. As the Fargo-Moorhead area’s colleges strike up their theatre programs for 2013-2014, one college company is turning to some thought-provoking subject matter for their premiere. Currently running at MSUM’s Gaede Stage is “The Laramie Project,” the start to MSUM Theatre’s new season of shows.
Developed by Moisés Kaufman and other members of New York’s Tectonic Theatre Company, “The Laramie Project” is a look into the issues surrounding the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student.
Shepard was kidnapped, tortured and left tied to a fence on the Wyoming prairie by two Laramie residents. He was found nearly a day later by a bicyclist who mistook him for a scarecrow. Despite the efforts to save his life over the next few days in a Colorado hospital, he succumbed to his injuries on Oct. 12, 1998. His killers were convicted and sentenced in 1999 to two life sentences each.
Through interviews conducted in Laramie, Wyo., following Shepard’s death, Kaufman and his crew formed a production that delves into what happened and why.
“They interviewed people of the community, some who were directly involved, some were just responding to the situation, and they did that a number of times over the years following the events,” director Patrick Carriere. “[T]hey got a lot of source material from the interviews, and they transformed those interviews and that source material into a performance.”
Through 55 short scenes, “The Laramie Project” presents the various points of view surrounding the issues of Shepard’s death, which was classified as a hate crime and inspired legislation for the investigations and prosecutions of hate crimes.
“It is based on a lot of monologue work, so a lot of times the characters will come out and speak about an issue surrounding the events, and you’ll have multiple characters speaking about that same issue in a single moment,” Carriere said.
Theatrically compelling and thought-provoking in the process, “The Laramie Project” dives deeper than just an evening at the theater, and strikes at the heart of the matters involved in Shepard’s death. Ideas and experiences are hashed out through Kaufman’s interviews, which are delivered in a variety of ways.
Monologues and layered interviews comprise a main vehicle for the delivery of the show’s moments, while other scenes are like those of a play. “The Laramie Project” runs very much on the theatrical side, so no “60 Minutes”-esque, investigative biopic will play out on the Gaede Stage.
“There are climax moments and there are moments that come out of their experiences with this, but the ending is a powerful ending,” Carriere said. “Essentially, they leave Laramie and take with them what they’ve learned.”
“The Laramie Project” is 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at MSUM’s Gaede Stage. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for MSUM alumni, faculty, staff and seniors, $10 for non-MSUM students and free for MSUM students with ID. Tickets are available at the box office and by phone at 218-477-2271.