Act of hate inspires theatre project of hope: UT staging ‘The Laramie Project’

November 18, 2015 | Events, UToday, — Communication and the Arts
By Angela Riddel

In 1998, 21-year old gay college student Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyo., savagely beaten and left for dead; he succumbed several days later to his injuries.

While his death was horrific enough, the reaction in the community was even more startling. Some reacted with hate, others with compassion.

laramie project“The Laramie Project,” created by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project, poignantly gives voice to the members of the Laramie community who were affected by this tragedy. By doing so, the project began a dialogue that opened a path to healing and hope.

The UT Theatre and Film Department production of “The Laramie Project” is directed by gay couple Pete Cross and Mark Leasor, both UT graduates. Leasor earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre in 1994 and a bachelor of arts degree in art in 1995. Cross earned bachelor of art degrees in art history and psychology in 2002.

The “voices” represented in the play are not just from the LGBTQ community, according to the directors. The play expresses a range of viewpoints.

“We wanted our actors to envision the people of Laramie and to connect to each other and to the people of the town,” Cross said.

He added the cast and crew hope that this performance will continue the dialogue.

Performances will take place Friday, Nov. 20, through Sunday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6. Performance times are 7:30 p.m., except Sunday performances, which are at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for students and children; $10 for UT faculty, staff and alumni, and military members and seniors; and $15 for the general public. Call 419.530.ARTS (2787) or order online at Tickets also will be available at the door.

There also will be daytime matinee performances for schools and community groups only. These will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, and Wednesday, Dec. 2. All seats are $8. Individual tickets will not be sold, groups only. To reserve seats for your group, call Christopher Montpetit at 419.530.4776 or email

Based in New York City, the Tectonic Theater Project is an award-winning company whose plays have been performed around the world. The project is dedicated to developing innovative works that explore theatrical language and form, fostering an artistic dialogue with audiences on the social, political and human issues that affect everyone.

Tectonic Theater Project was founded in 1991 by Kaufman and LaHoste. Tectonic refers to the art and science of structure and was chosen to emphasize the company’s interest in construction — how things are made and how they might be made differently.

Its groundbreaking plays, “The Laramie Project,” “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” and “I Am My Own Wife,” among others, have sparked national discourse and have inspired artists and audiences worldwide.

The UT production of “The Laramie Project” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc. in New York.

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