The Laramie Cycle New York Premiere
Part 1: The Laramie Project
Part 2: The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later
In 1998, 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was beaten to death, the victim of a hate crime that left the small town of Laramie, Wyoming--and many national and international observers--in shock. In the aftermath of Shepard's death, acclaimed playwright and director Moisés Kaufman (Gross Indecency, I Am My Own Wife) and members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie and conducted more than 200 interviews with its residents. Using these interview transcripts, court documents, and media reportage as source material, they created The Laramie
Project, which went on to become one of the most performed pieces of theater in the US and, via its adaptation into an HBO film, found an audience of more than 30 million people.
On October 12, 2009 (the 11th anniversary of Shepard's death) audiences in more than 130 cities in the United States and abroad attended the simultaneous premieres of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, which used many of the same techniques to document changes in the community since the hate
crime; the new play was also in part a rebuttal to a false emerging narrative that characterized the murder as a drug deal gone wrong. The production in New York was performed as a reading by the
original cast members of the play and film, while other participants included professional regional
theaters, community groups, high schools, and universities, including Shepard's alma mater, the
University of Wyoming. Both "projects" broke ground in terms of the creation and presentation of socially engaged theater, leaving Kaufman to pose a compelling question in American Theatre
magazine: "If in fact we created a national audience that was 'together' even though they were
geographically separated, how do we maintain and foster this kind of collectivity?"