The Laramie Project: The Night Hate Became A Crime
Tuesday, 09 August 2011
The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts is very proud to present the The Laramie Project written by Moisés Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theater Project. The Laramie Project will be directed by visiting guest artist, Craig Ilott (Dealer’s Choice, Eddie Perfect’s Helpmann Award winning show Misanthropology, Decameron, Edmond with B Sharp Belvoir, Makropoulos Secret for Opera Australia and assistant to director Neil Armfield on the feature film Candy). The Laramie Project plays The Roundhouse Theatre, Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley, 26 Aug – 1 Sep.
Hailed by Time Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Plays of the Year 2000,” The Laramie Project is a thought provoking, critically acclaimed and emotionally riveting theatre experience of a small town at the epicentre of an incomprehensible crime. It has been called “an Our Town for the new millennium.” New York Magazine hailed The Laramie Project as “Nothing short of stunning!”
The Laramie Project depicts the events surrounding the death of a young, gay university student, Matthew Shepard. On 6 October 1998, Matthew was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. Five weeks later, Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project spent the next year conducting more than 200 interviews with people of the town. From these interviews they wrote this three‑act play, in which a small band of actors portray more than 60 characters, chronicling the life of the town of Laramie in the year after the murder.
The cast is made up of 16 students from WAAPA’s graduating class of actors utilizing all the skills they have honed over three years of intense training at WAAPA, making for a powerful stage event and demonstration of verbatim theatre. The play explores the issues of homosexuality, religion, class, economics, education, and non-traditional lifestyles through the residents’ raw responses to the incident. How did this crime define the culture, not just of this western town, but also of the entire United States?
The Laramie Project is still one of the most performed plays in America and has also been performed in professional playhouses in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. The play still elicits a very strong response. Many of the performances in the United States have been picketed by representatives of Fred Phelps, who are portrayed in the play picketing Matthew Shepard's funeral as they did in real life.
There are still over 9,000 hate crimes in the U.S. ever year. On October 28, 2009 President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Prevention Act.