By Emma Duggan, Staff Writer
Today, Thursday, October 22, in the Alumni Theater, the UMF Theatre Club will be presenting their first performance of the season: “The Laramie Project”.
“The Laramie Project” was written by Moisés Kaufan and is based on the true story of Matthew Shepard’s murder in 1998. Allegedly, MatthewShepard was a young homosexual boy attending the University of Wyoming who was assaulted, tied on a fence, and left to die near Laramie, Wyo. He died six days later at Poudre Valley Hospital on October 12, 1998 from severe head injuries.
After Shepard’s murder, members of the Tectonic Theater Project travelled to Laramie to conduct interviews and compile information from theresidentswho lived in the town. It was these interviews they received that then became the dialogue of the play. Because of this, the play is truly authentic and intense in its nature.
This past summer, director Jayne Decker herself traveled to Laramie, Wyo. to get in the mindset of the play. She has a picture of the area close to where the incident occurred hanging on her office door.
Tucker Atwood, a cast member for the showing at UMF, said in a Facebook Messenger interview,“‘The Laramie Project’ is by far the most serious show that I have ever done.”
In addition, “The Laramie Project” has a very strong social message that Atwood believes theaudience can walk away with. “We can learn about how a town, and humanity in general, can come together after a tragedy occurs,” said Atwood.
The UMF Theatre Club has been know for doing productions that focus on strong issues in the past. “People know that we here at the university are not afraid to do a social message,” said Assistant Director Nathon Slyrestes.
“The Laramie Project” has proven to be one of the largest plays presented by the UMF Theatre Club in many years. “It is a huge production” said Costume Designer Elizabeth Doss. “There are over 60 characters and we have 15 actors to fill them.”
Cast members are intending to play many different characters during the play, and will be switching roles in front of the audience’s eyes. “I am trying to distinguish characters with minimal clothing,” Doss said. “They really can manipulate the stage.”
“The Laramie Project” is projected to gain a sizable following, as it highlights a town coming together in grief. “It is about love and acceptance in the face of hatred,” said Atwood. “As the LGBT community gains the acceptance it deserves, this show allows us to take a look at how far we’ve come since 1998, the year in which the true events from the play take place.”
The play’s opening night will take place tonight, October 22nd at 7:30 p.m. Other show times include October 23rd and 24th at 7:30 p.m., and October 25th at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices for students are five dollars with a student ID.