Town & Gown Theatre to produce “The Laramie Project”


Town & Gown Theatre’s production of “The Laramie Project” opens April 4 and promises to leave audiences deeply and profoundly moved.  The play documents the aftermath of the killing of Matthew Shepard, a young University of Wyoming student, in October of 1998; and its effect on the residents of Laramie, Wyoming and the entire nation.  The events of Matthew’s death and the public reaction to it still hold powerful lessons for us all more than 25 years later. 

As news reports about Matthew’s death began to flood the airwaves shortly after his passing, Moises Kaufman of the Tectonic Theatre Project in New York gathered several of his fellow theatre company members, and they all traveled to Laramie to conduct interviews with townspeople there.  The interviews included professionals from the university, students, law enforcement officers, local business owners, ranchers, faith leaders, medical staff and administrators, and others who helped to provide a cross-section of points of view from across the community. Over the successive year, Tectonic members traveled back to Laramie a half-dozen times to conduct additional interviews.  The entire text of the play is taken from those interviews, along with transcripts from police interviews, court sessions, and public statements made by medical officials, politicians, and others.

The text of the play includes pieces of interviews and public statements from over 60 people who lived in and around Laramie, but the cast consists of just nine actors.  With each actor playing several roles, there is no time for significant costume changes.  Instead, actors have a number of small accessories that allow them to differentiate their “characters.”  Together with the fourth-wall-breaking documentary style of the script, this helps to create a unique theater experience that audiences will not soon forget.

In speaking to her desire to bring this thoughtful, emotional tour de force to the Town & Gown stage, director Deborah Sutton explained, “I had the opportunity to direct “The Laramie Project” several years ago as a reader’s theater production at another venue in Stillwater, and I have wanted ever since to bring it to the Town & Gown stage.  Audience members then told us how beautiful and powerfully affecting it was, and I wanted to share that experience with our Town & Gown patrons.”

Audiences will recognize veterans of the Town & Gown stage in the cast, including Jacob Boyd, Ruthann Daniel, Brian Harrison, Scott Martin, Cindy Sheets, and Sydney Wehmeyer.  Town & Gown is excited to announce three additional cast members who are brand new to its stage: Shannah Arner, Andrew Cathey, and Bladen Covey.

“The Laramie Project” will run from April 4 - 7 and 11-14.  Thursday through Saturday evening shows start at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 p.m.  Tickets go on sale Monday, April 1 and can be obtained by calling the Town & Gown box office at (405) 372-9122 or visiting the theatre’s Web site at  Tickets prices are $16 each for adults and $14 for students and seniors.  “The Laramie Project” contains adult themes, slurs, and other discriminatory language which may not be suitable for children.  Viewer discretion is advised. 

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