What are The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later about?
The plays were created by Moisés Kauffman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project in New York and explore the reaction and impacts of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the residents of Laramie, Wyoming. The Laramie Project premiered at The Ricketson Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in February 2000 and was performed in New York City, as well as a November 2002 performance in Laramie, Wyoming.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation’s Executive Vice President, Jason Marsden, wrote eloquently of the plays in his article “The Legacy of Matthew Shepard” for WyoHistory.org:
“A literary and theatric legacy, meanwhile, came from a band of playwrights and performers from New York City who were moved by the unfolding story of how a town responds to tragedy, controversy and worldwide media attention. The Laramie Project is a gripping tour through the actual spoken words of Laramie people drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews to show the outrage, the sense of being unfairly singled out, the quiet hope for change among gay and lesbian residents and the sometimes callous behavior of journalists. With the possible exception of the ongoing Wyoming State Archives collection of oral histories from those at the crime’s epicenter, the play, which is still widely performed, is the fullest extant record of the feelings and impressions of those who lived the story.”
“In the theatre company’s 2009 follow-up The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, many characters extensively critique the local response, the spotlight the town endured, and in a real sense, one another. The dramatists clearly came to conclude that some who wished for a more open and accepting Laramie see signs of this, while others despair of it ever happening. Among those who yearn for a Laramie free of the crime’s stain, some found that happening. Others did not. Mythology and storytelling, one University of Wyoming folklorist and professor told the theater company, play as deep a role in the remembrance of history as do news reports and personal memories.”
I’m interested in doing a production of The Laramie Project and/or The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. How do I get started?
Rights to the Laramie Project plays are facilitated through Dramatists Play Service. They will inform you if the rights are available to you, and the process of obtaining them.
How can the Matthew Shepard Foundation help with my production?
The Foundation has an entire archive of marketing and visual materials for schools and production companies looking to perform The Laramie Project. For access to the archive, please complete our support form.
Our Program Officer for Artistic Outreach, Louis Sisneros, is also available to answer questions or Skype-in for a talk-back session with the cast. To schedule a talk-back session, complete our Contact Us form.
Does the play depict a murder?
No. The play is about the people of the town of Laramie and how they reacted to Matthew Shepard’s beating and murder. There is no violence depicted onstage.
Does the play promote homosexuality?
No. Although often wrongly labeled “that gay play” by its detractors, The Laramie Project is not about homosexuality or even primarily about Matthew himself. As documentary theater, it lays before the audience what happened in the case of Matthew’s murder and how the people of Laramie, and the world, responded. There are many differing viewpoints put forth in the play, and it is left to the individual to decide how they feel about what happened and about each of the individual characters.
Is the play appropriate for all audiences?
Due to mature themes and language, many companies producing the play choose to include a disclaimer or warning that the subject matter may not be suitable for all ages.
Can I edit the plays for length or content?
The plays belong to Tectonic Theater Project and may not be altered in any form without the express permission of the authors. You may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.