The Racquet

UWL Presents The Laramie Project

Megan Roddy, Guest Reporter

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La Crosse, WI -The University of Wisconsin La Crosse Department of Theatre Arts proudly presents ​The Laramie Project ​written by ​Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project​. ​The Laramie Project ​will open on the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death on October 12th at 7:30 p.m. ​The Laramie Project ​will run from October 12-13 and 18-20 at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on October 14 and 21 at 2:00 p.m.

Matthew Shepard was a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming. On October 6, 1998 Matthew was kidnapped, beaten, and left to die, tied to a fence in a Wyoming field. Why was he assaulted? Because he was gay. Matthew died from his injuries six days after the attack.This hate crime ignited a fiery debate that tore the small town of Laramie, Wyoming apart and sparked national and international debate about gay rights and gender identity.​​The Laramie Project ​focuses on the impact of the Matthew Shepard on the Laramie community, the LGBTQ+community, and the world itself.

The Tectonic Theater Project conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town including those directly connected to the case to create a deeply moving theatrical experience.The ​Laramie Project ​is a breathtaking theatrical collage that ​tells the story of the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the community and his lasting legacy.

Leah Williams, a sophomore Psychology and Musical Theater, major is a part of the eight person cast representing the voices of the citizens of Laramie. Williams also serves as assistant dramaturg for the production. When asked what has been the greatest challenge in being a part of The Laramie Project ​she answered, “ It has been such a joy to work with our director, Greg Parmeter. He has given our cast such a safe space in rehearsal and in our table work. Personally,he has given me so much agency in this process as a actor and dramaturg. Personally for me, the greatest challenge was before the process began. There was a fear, of not doing this piece with proper homage and also the emotional toll it would take on us as a production.”

“Whether a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community or not, it is so important for us to look at these perspectives and listen. When we open up and listen to one another, we can create opportunities to spread empathy and understanding. Even if you disagree, I think you can gain not only perspective through seeing the production, but you will feel your voice is heard too. As we begin to understand one another’s perspectives, it allows us to move one step closer to a culture of dialogue, understanding, and acceptance. This piece is wonderful because it humanizes all opinions, and makes us realize we are more alike than we are different.

”The Laramie Project ​has been hailed “A pioneering work and a powerful stage event,” according to ​Time Magazine​. Associated Press stated that it is “Astonishing. Not since ​Angels in America has a play attempted so much: nothing less than an examination of the American psyche at the end of the millennium.”

IF YOU GO:

WHO:​ UW-La Crosse Department of Theatre Arts

WHAT​: ​The Laramie Project ​written by ​Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project.

WHEN: ​October 12-13 and 18-20 at 7:30 p.m. and October 14 and 21 at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE:​ Toland Theater, Center for the Arts, 333 N. 16th Street, La Crosse, WI 54601

COST:​ $18 adults; $16 seniors citizens/non UW-L students; $6 UW-L students. Tickets maybe purchased online beginning October 3 at​​www.uwlax.edu/theatre-arts​. In person/phonereservations begin October 8 by calling 608-785-8522. Box office hours are Monday through Friday 1:00-4:30 p.m. and one hour prior to each performance.

CAST: ​Shane Flaningam, Morgan Gates, Lauren Hanson, Corrine Kessler, Natalie Leek, Mike Meyers, Gabe Ross, Leah Williams

CREW: ​Greg Parmeter (Director), Alexis Wells (Stage Manager), Lexi Mitchell (Scenic Designer), Sarah Herkert (Lighting Designer), Rachael Reis (Sound Designer), Megan Morey (Technical Director), Sydney Smith (Projection/Video Designer)

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