Fall Play 2015: The Laramie Project

With the Paris attacks fresh in everyone’s minds and hearts, Friday and Saturday’s performances of The Laramie Project explored, with great passion, issues of intolerance and violence and how we, as human beings, grapple with such events.

The play was about the beating and death of Matthew Shepard, a college student at the University of Wyoming in the fall of 1998. Comprised of “Moments” rather than scenes, each “Moment” contained actual transcripted interviews and conversations with many people in Laramie, including family members, friends, fellow students, teachers, and acquaintances of Matthew Shepard. In addition, the accused–Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson–along with clergy, business owners, and the regular townspeople of Laramie, shared their thoughts and reactions to the crime.

Arriving on the heels of the tragedy in Paris, the piece stayed as relevant as when it was first produced. It was truly an example of man’s inhumanity to man as well as our ability to accept, forgive, and be kind to one another. Megan Walton began each performance with a brief reminder to the audience of the serious and sometimes graphic nature of the play and, after a brief moment of silence each evening for the victims in the Paris bombings, she quoted a character in the play: “I guess I never understood, until now, the level at which some people can hate.”

The reality and intensity of the play challenged not only the actors but the audience as well. The play gave pause and caused us to examine and, perhaps challenge our own beliefs and tenets.

The cast consists of 26 students and 9 faculty members playing more than 75 roles in total.