LOUISVILLE, Ky. –The murder of an openly gay student that led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, enacted into law last October, is also the subject of a play that will be performed April 14-18 by the UofL Department of Theatre Arts.
“The Laramie Project” is the work of playwright Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Project. The New York based group used tape-recorded interviews with 200 Laramie residents to create the text of the play, chronicling daily life in the town after the 1998 murder of Shepard. The 21-year old University of Wyoming student was beaten, tied to a fence on the outskirts of town and left to die by two men roughly his age. The murder and subsequent trial brought national and international attention leading to expanded legal protections to persons who are victimized due to their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
The play will be performed at 8 p.m. April 14, 15, 16 and 18 (but not on Saturday, April 17). Additional matinee performances will be at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18. All shows will be at The Playhouse, 1911 South 3rd Street.
Directed by Russell Vandenbroucke, theater chair, a cast of 15 dramatizes the reactions and opinions of residents—who range from limousine drivers to university professors and from a gay rancher to a Baptist minister—divulging how ordinary people are affected by the extraordinary events.
“They reveal how the townspeople came to terms with the reality that the murder was by their own neighbors, not outsiders,” Vandenbroucke said. “They are forced to cope with how this could have happened in their community.”
Vandebrouke added, “The murderers were a byproduct of their schools and churches as happens in other communities, including Louisville.”
Tickets for the UofL performances are $12 for the general public, $10 for faculty and staff and $8 for students and senior citizens. For tickets and information, call 502-852-6814 or visit www.louisville.edu/theatrearts