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'The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later'

Oct. 2, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University will observe the worldwide premiere of "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later," with a free, public reading of the groundbreaking epilogue Monday, Oct. 12.

Dr. D. Terry Williams, professor emeritus of theatre, will direct the reading, which begins at 8 p.m. in Williams Theatre at WMU's Gilmore Theatre Complex. For more information on the production, call the ticket office at (269) 387-6222.

Written by Tectonic Theater Project members Moises Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber, the epilogue focuses on the long-term effects of the murder of Matthew Shepard on the town of Laramie. It explores how the town has changed and how the murder continues to reverberate in the community.

The play also includes new interviews with Shepard's mother, Judy Shepard, and his murderer, Aaron McKinney, who is serving two consecutive life sentences. The writers also conducted many follow-up interviews with Laramie residents from the original piece, including Romaine Patterson, Reggie Fluty, Jedediah Shultz, Father Roger Schmidt, Jonas Slonaker and others.

"The Tectonic Theater Project set out to find out how Laramie had changed in the 10 years since the murder of Matthew Shepard," Kaufman says. "When we arrived, we were forced to confront the question, 'How do you measure change in a community?' One of the things we found when we got there, which greatly surprised us, was how many people in Laramie were trying to say this was not a hate crime."

"We found the people of Laramie still fighting to own their own history, their own identity, their own story, and part of that is shaped by how they understand what happened that night to Matthew," Fondakowski says.

Join the discussion

In tandem with the premiere, an interactive community will be launched where participants can blog, upload video and photos, and share their stories about the play. The members of Tectonic Theater Project will be active participants in the online community, offering feedback and encouragement to participants.

Join now
Laramie Project Online Community

The Laramie Project

On Oct. 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die, tied to a fence in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. He died six days later. His murder became a watershed historical moment in America that highlighted the violence and prejudice lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face.

A month after the murder, the members of Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people of the town. From these interviews they wrote the play "The Laramie Project," which they later made into a film for HBO. More than 50 million people around the country have seen the piece.

Tectonic Theater Project

Tectonic Theater Project is an award-winning company whose plays have been performed around the world. Since 1992, the group has produced innovative works that explore theatrical language and form, fostering an artistic dialogue with audiences on the social, political and human issues of the day. The company has developed and produced works for theatre and film, including "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde," "The Laramie Project" and "I am My Own Wife."

Tectonic has garnered numerous awards, including the Humanitas Prize, the Obie, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the GLAAD Media Award, the Artistic Integrity Award from the Human Rights Campaign, and the Making a Difference Award from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. "The Laramie Project" was also honored with four Emmy nominations, the National Board of Review Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, and a Golden Bear Award from the Berlin Film Festival.

In addition to creating theatrical works, Tectonic Theater Project works in residence at universities around the country and hosts a New York-based training lab for theatre artists.

For more information on the company, visit tectonictheaterproject.org.

Support for the Laramie Project

"The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" at WMU is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greenwall Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Small Change Foundation, Educational Foundation of America, Shawn Donnelley, Judy Dimon, and the donors and friends of Tectonic.

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Media contact: Emily Duguay, (269) 387-3227, emily.duguay@wmich.edu

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