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on October 26, 2005
I am the 61-year-old father of a 24-year-old son who appeared in The Laramie Project two years ago, when he was a college senior. I sat in the front row of the theater in the round in which the play was produced. The play did not "get to me"--it dragged me into the worst What If a parent can have: what if my son were gay (he's not), what if he were murdered--how would I react, what would I feel?

The question was answered via the actor who played Dennis Sheperd. When he delivered his monologue to the Aaron McKinney character, and referred to Matt Sheperd as his firstborn son and his hero, I absolutely lost it. Hatred, a desire for vengeance, but a recognition that this was the start of a time to heal. A message like this can go out of style...never. For any parent, The Laramie Project is terribly difficult to witness. But witness it you must.
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The 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was a watershed event. This tragedy stimulated debates on anti-gay prejudice and violence. "The Laramie Project," by Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project, attempts to find meaning in the murder and its aftermath.
Kaufman and the other members of the theater group travelled to Laramie, Wyoming, which was the focal point of the Matthew Shepard tragedy, in order to interview the people of the town. As the play's opening states, the dialogue of the play is drawn from these interviews as well as from other sources. Thus the play's language has a raw authenticity. Many different voices are heard: a policewoman, Matthew's father, a Catholic priest, a lesbian college professor, Matthew's killers, a Unitarian minister, a viciously anti-gay protestor, etc.
An interesting aspect of the play is the presence of Tony Kushner's play "Angels in America" as a sort of "background" text. "Angels" is mentioned more than once in this play, and indeed, there are significant parallels between the two texts. I recommend that people read both of these remarkable works.
Many issues are addressed in "Project." One character notes that "we need to own this crime." This play is a not only a morally challenging attempt to deal with a high profile tragedy, but also a compelling work of art.
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on April 3, 2002
This play defies words. You probably already know this, but this play is structured as a "docudrama," somewhere between a documentary and a plot/character driven play. Laramie weaves together threads of national strife, the eternal fight against hatred and a plethora of deep, powerful characters. One of my favorite moments in this play comes when a middle aged gay man sits in his apartment and describes the rapidly growing group of people marching in a parade honoring Matthew in his last days, how eventually more people are marching for Matthew than for the parade itself. This play is a triumph of the human spirit that has arisen from a truly dark moment in recent American history. The recent HBO movie is a well-done rendition, although, having seen three different productions and been involved in one, I must say that the play is a bit more moving. Read it, and for the sake of the late Matthew Shepard, if you get the chance, SEE IT.
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VINE VOICEon October 4, 2001
Moises Kaufman, who created the magnificent stage drama _Gross Indecency_, based on the trial of Oscar Wilde, here takes another true-life incident, the murder of Matthew Shephard, the young gay man who was beaten and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming, and applies the same documentary techniques, culling the monologues and characters from interviews with actual residents of the town and people variously involved with the tragedy and its aftermath.
I saw the play in its Off-Broadway incarnation and was overwhelmed by the drama, brought out by a magnificent cast (members of which helped write the text), many playing multiple characters. The skill and passion of the actors, I think, was responsible for much of the power of the evening, combined with a simple but effective production. Inevitably, reading the text alone will not bring out the full impact of this work. Still, it is a powerful testament and one that should be disseminated in whatever form. If it's produced anywhere in your neighborhood, I would say, run, don't walk to see it.
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on October 18, 2003
'The Laramie Project' is more than a play, it is a beautiful and astonishing work of art! If you are given the chance to see this play, THEN SEE IT! The HBOFilms version is good, but the story loses some of its grace and charm in the whirlwind of big name actors. I have been privelidged enough to perform in a production of 'The Laramie Project', and as a gay man, it gave me a lot to think about and a whole lot more to feel thankful for. If you are an actor, many of the monologues in this play are perfect for any audition. If this play could bring my stepfather to tears, who knows what it could do for you?
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on November 4, 2001
This drama goes past the newscasts and explains more in depth how the Laramie community was affected by this tragedy. Rather than portraying a bunch of "hicks" who were perceived as not caring by the media when the murder occurred, this book explains how most of the citizens of Laramie were affected. This is great in that it goes beyond the murder and looks into the aftermath and how the town was changed by the life and death of one special young man.
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on October 30, 2007
We purchased this play because my son's High School principal decided not to allow the theater teacher to put it on at his school without even bothering to read the play before making this decision!!! Moreover, the principal essentially threatened to fire the teacher if the issue was pursued. We wanted to share this play with as many people as possible after that incident and so have been loaning it to friends, relatives, other teachers, anyone willing to read it. It is truly an important work, putting a human face on the people of Laramie, Wyoming. What happened there could happen anywhere, and we not only shouldn't, but can't, hide these difficult truths.
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on October 26, 2002
The most I remember about the murder of Matthew Shepherd was the cover of a TIME magazine with a picture of Matt and the fence on it, and wondering, "What does a fence have to do with this kid?" Like quite a few of the characters in this play, I didn't feel any connection to this person or the entire "incident" at first. But a few months ago, the director for my high school's drama club announced we would be doing "The Laramie Project" for a fall play, and my first reaction was (still) pretty blank as I struggled to remember where I had heard the word "Laramie" before. But, not being one to miss any play I can act in, I signed up to audition, got my parts (not knowing who any of the characters were) and finally got a complete script about two weeks later.
The play is written with each "scene" comprising of several different conversations or monologues melded together to form a specific "moment" in time that joins with other moments to provide a picture of the events in question. (Confused yet? Sorry, but this was the best way for me to put the structure into words, but it will make a little more sense after reading the script.) Anyway, enough with the objective, on with the subjective. Moisés Kaufman and the other members of the Tectonic Theater Project have put together a modern masterpiece here. While sifting through the 200+ interviews they made over the two years they sent in Laramie, they never dulled the vibrant emotions of the residents of the city. (Some evidence of this is their refusal to water-down the "colorful metaphores" in the characters' speech [a job the administration of my school decided to take upon themselves to do {GRRRRRRR!}].) This has been one of the best plays I have ever seen (or acted in), not because of a good cast (although our cast WAS pretty cool) or some nice scenery, but because of the lines and characters themselves.
A note to any directors of school (or community) drama troupes: while homosexuality is a major topic in this play, the writers do a good job of staying true to the blessing of Father Roger Schmit when he tells them "to do [their] best to say it correct" and not put any kind of pro/anti-gay twist on the story to further any political/social cause except for anti-hate. THAT is the real focus of the story, not GAY PRIDE but a rejection of discrimination in any form it takes. Just mention this fact and any disquiet in your school/community over the play should settle down pretty quickly (at least it did in my school).
Thank you for reading (if you were patient enough to read this entire thing), BUY THIS BOOK, and I hope you enjoy it.
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on December 7, 2002
I haven't actually read the play, but I just returned from seeing it performed at my daughter's high school. It is a powerful and moving drama, creatively staged with each actor playing a multitude of parts. Nevertheless, the flow is clear, the progression of the story is evident and the powerful emotions build throughout the play. By the final act, I was in tears.
It is masterful, don't miss seeing it.
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on January 6, 2003
The truth is, reading it wont do as much for you as a good performance. I'm not talking about HBO, I'm talking about theater.
However, even though hundreds of high schools have done this play in the fall of 2002 alone, maybe you aren't able to see it.
This is the most amazing play ever. Not because it has amazing language like Shakespeare. In fact, the language can get pretty ugly because this play is compiled of monologues. Each monologue is from one of the many interviews which the Tectonic Theater Company made in Laramie. In other words, every single word spoken in this book was really said. EVERYTHING is true.
The play we did was so amazing. It CHANGED people. They looked at homosexuality differently. They had new respect and a new view of things. We ended up performing it for the whole school because they felt the students needed to see it.

The Laramie Project is about the responses to the hate crime commited in Laramie, Wyoming. The monologues include people who grew up with Matt Shepard, the boy who was beaten and left to die, people who helped the family, and people who knew the accused. i strongly encourage you to read this twice. Don't bother watching the movie, though.
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