(Media release) â€”Â The creators of the highly acclaimed play The Laramie Project, which since 2000 has been one of the most performed plays in America, will premiere a compelling and groundbreaking epilogue to the original piece. Entitled, Â The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, the play will be performed in New York at Lincoln Centerâ€™s Alice Tully Hall, in Hilo, and in over 100 other theaters in all fifty states, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Hong Kong and Australia on October 12, 2009. The writers of this play are Tectonic Theater Project members MoisÃ©s Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris, and Stephen Belber.
The epilogue focuses on the long-term effects of the murder of Matthew Shepard on the town of Laramie. It explores how the town has changed and how the murder continues to reverberate in the community. The play also includes new interviews with Matthewâ€™s mother Judy Shepard and Mathewâ€™s murderer Aaron McKinney, whoâ€™s serving two consecutive life sentences.Â The writers also conducted many follow-up interviews Laramie residents from the original piece, including, Romaine Patterson, Reggie Fluty, Jedediah Shultz, Father Roger Schmidt, Jonas Slonaker, Beth Loffreda and others.
In tandem with the premiere, an online interactive community will be launched where participants can blog, upload video and photos and share their stories about the play, experiences in preparing and presenting the Epilogue in their communities. The members of Tectonic Theater Project will be active participants in the online community, offering participants feedback and encouragement.
â€œThe Tectonic Theater Project set out to find out how Laramie hadÂ changed in the ten years since the murder of Matthew Shepard. When weÂ arrived, we were forced to confront the question, â€˜How do you measure Â change in a community?â€™ One of the things we found when we got there,Â which greatly surprised us, was people in Laramie saying this was notÂ a hate crime,â€ said Moises Kaufman, artistic director of Tectonic Theater Project.Â
“We found the people of Laramie still fighting to own their own history, their own identity, their own story, and part of that is shaped by how they understand what happened that night to Matthew,â€ Â continued Leigh Fondakowski.
Â â€œCreating the epilogue also gave us the opportunity to talk to AaronÂ McKinney about his crime, what his thinking is about it now, and what his experience has been in prison over the past decade,” said Greg Pierotti, the company member who interviewed Aaron. Â “We were also able to speak with Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, whose striking transformation from privately grieving mother to civil rights activist has captured the nationâ€™s attention,â€ concluded Andy Paris.
On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die tied to a fence in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. He died 6 days later. His murder became a watershed historical moment in AmericaÂ that highlighted the violence and prejudice lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face.
A month after the murder, the members of Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people of the town. From these interviews they wrote the play The Laramie Project, which they later made into a film for HBO. The piece has been seen by more than 50 million people around the country.
Tectonic Theater Project (MoisÃ©s Kaufman, artistic director,Â Greg Reiner, executive director, Jeffrey LaHoste, managing director, Dominick Balletta, general manager)Â is an award-winning company whose plays have been performed around the world. Since 1992 TTP has produced innovative works that explore theatrical language and form, fostering an artistic dialogue with our audiences on the social, political and human issues of the day. The company has developed and produced works for theater and film, including: the smash hitÂ Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde; The Laramie Project (one of the most produced plays in the country, as well as an HBO movie written and directed by Kaufman); andÂ I Am My Own Wife (2004 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for best play). Â Tectonic has garnered numerous awards including the Humanitas Prize, the Obie, the Lucille Lortel Award, The Outer Critics Circle Award, the GLAAD Media Award, the Artistic Integrity Award from the Human Rights Campaign, and the Making a Difference Award from the Matthew Shepard Foundation.Â The film ofÂ The Laramie ProjectÂ was also honored with four Emmy Nominations, The National Board of Review Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie and a Golden Bear Award from the Berlin Film Festival.Â Â In addition to creating theatrical works, Tectonic Theater Project works in residence at universities around the country and hosts a New York based training lab for theater artists.Â
As a non-profit laboratory we are grateful for the long term support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greenwall Foundation, The Arcus Foundation, The Small Change Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, Shawn Donnelley, Judy Dimon, and the donors and friends of Tectonic. Â For more information on the company, visitÂ www.tectonictheaterproject.org.
The International Community Convocation of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, is made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and the support of these presenting partners: Â Grand Performances, Los Angeles, California;Â Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio;Â UA Presents, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona;Â Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah;Â Reston Community Center, Reston, Virginia;Â Miami University Performing Arts Series, Oxford, Ohio;Â Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut;Â Celebrity Series of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts;Â The Baptist Temple @ Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;Â Cal Poly Arts, San Luis Obispo, California;Â Fullerton College, Fullerton, California;Â Gay Menâ€™s Chorus of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California;Â Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, Colorado;Â Lied Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln, Nebraska;Â Choregus Productions LLC, Tulsa, Oklahoma;Â Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, Maryland;Â Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico; andÂ Hope Theatre Company, Salford, United Kingdom.
The University of Hawaii-Hilo performance of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later is being directed by Ken Elliott, of Gasp Theatre Company.