The dialogue is current, the setting is well known and the issue is still on the forefront of everyday discourse: how should our society cope with violence, hate and hate crimes and how can these issues be resolved? These are the topics that the Wyoming Seminary Players will consider when they present the highly regarded play “The Laramie Project” on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3 in the Buckingham Performing Arts Center on North Sprague Avenue in Kingston.
The production, beginning at 8 p. m., is open to the public. Tickets are $4 in advance and $5 at the door.
“The Laramie Project,” written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, premiered at the Ricketson Theater in Denver in February, 2000 and is frequently performed throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. The play is based on hundreds of interviews with residents of Laramie, Wyoming, following the 1998 torture and death of Matthew Shepard at the hands of two local men. Shepard, a gay college student, was 21 years old when he was kidnapped, beaten, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie and left to die in the cold. Many people considered the murder to be a hate crime, and Shepard’s death helped highlight the lack of hate crime laws throughout the United States. The play features 13 actors who represent more than 60 characters presenting their opinions, observations and actions regarding the Shepard case.
Sem Theater Director John Hornung says he teaches the play in his Contemporary Drama class and it has always been a favorite with his students. There is something about the voices of real people that gets their attention and makes them want to discuss the issues that the play raises, he says.
“The play is about how a town
reacts to a violent crime. The residents of Laramie are asking, ‘does this define us? Is this who we really are? How did this even happen?’ One of the characters says that the killers must be ‘our most important teachers. What did we as a society do to teach you that?,’” Hornung says. “My hope is not that people walk out of the show feeling guilty, but that they walk out discussing the issues. My belief is that it is only through these discussions that we can hope to bring about change.”
Following the Friday and Saturday night performances, the cast members will offer the audience an opportunity to discuss the play and further explore the play’s issues.
This production is part of the 2013-14 Wyoming Seminary Performing Arts Series. For more information call 570-270-2192.