The Lenfest Center for the Arts
Contemporary Play Reading Series: "The Laramie Project" By Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project
A little more than 15 years ago, in October of 1998, a 21-year old student at the University of Wyoming, was savagely beaten and left to die. His assailants had tied him to a fencepost like a scarecrow. He was not found until the next day having had only the stars on a clear Wyoming night as his friends. His name was Matthew Shepard. Matthew died a few days later as a result of his wounds. The reason for this assault – Matthew was gay.
Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six visits to the university town of Laramie, interviewing members of the community in an attempt to shed light on this tragedy which had sparked nation-wide attention on the subject of gay-bashing and its inherent intolerance. The result became an intriguing account of Matthew’s story: one of horror, poignancy, and ultimately, mercy.
Originally the staging was simplistic, limited properties and costuming; where 8 actors played myriad roles. The only person not physically portrayed is Matthew, but his story comes alive, reflecting that lonely evening in October, 1998.
Like the first production, this reading of "The Laramie Project" will be simplistic, as it should be, auditioned, rehearsed and performed within a week’s time – the same amount of time between Matthew’s attack and his death. As Kaufman writes in the play’s introduction, “…working on "The Laramie Project" has been one of great sadness, great beauty and, perhaps most importantly, great revelations – about our nation, about our ideas, about ourselves.”
There are so many creative and talented playwrights today that it is not possible to fully produce all the plays we want to share with you. To assure we are fully representing the wide variety of dramatic literature currently available, we are producing a series of play readings. A stage reading focuses just on the play and its dialogue, resulting in an intimate, bare-bones theater experience. Our contemporary plays this season are a range of important and cutting edge works. After every reading, the audience is invited to join a talk-back discussion with the performers and director.
Some contain mature content; parental judgement may be required.