Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Review of 'The Laramie Project' by Moises Kaufman (Tectonic Theater Project)

"On October 7, 1998, a young gay man was discovered bound to a fence in the hills outside Laramie, Wyoming, savagely beaten and left to die in an act of brutality and hate that shocked the nation.  Matthew Shepard's death became a national symbol of intolerance, but for the people of Laramie the vent was deeply personal, and it is their voices we hear in this stunningly effective theater piece.

Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the beating and conducted more than 200 interviews with people of town.  From these interviews as well as their own experiences, Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater members have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience.  'The Laramie Project' chronicles the life of the town of Laramie in the year after the murder, using eight actors to embody more than sixty different people in their own words-- from rural ranchers to university professors.  The result is a complex portrayal that dispels the simplistic media stereotypes and explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which we are capable."

I really want to see this performed.  My friend Ezra and I have talked about this moment in history quite a bit.  The fact that people would actually harm or even kill someone over something like sexual identity makes both of us sick to our stomachs.

Before reading this play, I kind of knew what to expect.  I knew what had happened to Matthew Shepard, but I didn't know what happened at the various trials and hearings that followed.  I didn't realize that he didn't officially die while tied to that fence.  I didn't realize that Matt was in college (when Ezra and I were talking, I had a picture in my head of a boy maybe sixteen or seventeen).
I liked how this play shows all sorts of perspectives-- I'm not talking about over sixty characters played by a cast of eight people, but the general "For" and "Against" perspectives.  Though the "Against" perspective made me angry and drove me crazy the entire I was reading this, I think that it was really important to show.  It made Laramie, Wyoming a real place for those who weren't previously aware of the town.  

I love that this entire script is made up of bits and pieces of over 200 interviews.  It's like the town of Laramie is writing their own story, which I found and still find quite awesome.

If you like books about change, forgiveness, and hope, this is a book for you!

This script was difficult to read, so I can only imagine what this would be liked performed.  I give "The Laramie Project":
Thanks for Reading!



  1. The rating didn't show up! I must know what you rated it!


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