The Laramie Project
The Laramie Project is a play created by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project in reaction to the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. In what is widely believed to have been a homophobic hate crime, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a fencepost, where he was left to die. The Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie a month after the murder. Over the course of the next year, company members conducted more than 200 interviews with residents of the town. The play, edited directly from those interviews and journal entries by theater company members, presents an image of the citizens of Laramie and their reaction to the murder. Tectonic Theater Company members first presented The Laramie Project in Denver in 2000. The play has since been performed at venues across the nation – including high schools, colleges, and community theaters – by both Tectonic and other professional companies. In 2000, The Laramie Project was made into a film for HBO that has now been seen by more than 30,000 Americans. It has spawned companion educational materials, and is often used in high school and college classes to generate dialogue on and raise awareness of gay and lesbian issues, homophobia, questions of community and community disenfranchisement, and the price of intolerance. In 2008, Moisés Kaufman and members of Tectonic Theater Project returned to Laramie to discover what changes had occurred since their initial interviews. The resulting production, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, asks the questions: Did Matthew's murder had a lasting impact on that community? How has the town changed as a result of this event? What does life in Laramie tell us about life in America 10 years later? The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later premiered in over 100 cities in 2009, performed simultaneously by high schools, universities, professional regional theaters, and – in New York – the original casts of the play and film. Prior to the performance, a live webcast was presented from Lincoln Center, with Moisés Kaufman and the original cast introducing the play. Following the performance, the webcast was used to create a live question and answer session, with questions asked via twitter and other social media from the venues all over the country. In tandem with the premiere, an online interactive community was launched. Participants can blog, upload video and photos and share their experiences in preparing and presenting the project in their communities.