The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later

The Laramie Project tackles the tragic and heinous murder of 21 year old University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard. Matthews homosexuality was thought to be the motive behind this hate crime, but there was no such law to reflect this when prosecuting the perpetrators. His murder highlighted the lack of hate crime laws across America and the World.

The original play by Moisés Kaufman, and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, was created from 100s of interviews with residents of Laramie, friends and family, as well as news clippings and journals. This verbatim play became one of the most performed documentary plays ever, seen by over 30 million people around the World.

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later is just what it states. The same theatre group returned to Laramie to find out how, or if, the town had moved on and how 10 years had changed Matthews story.

I have never seen The Laramie Project but was aware of the story. The nature of the production allows that you will soon be brought up to speed on the history and background of this case.

Fast paced and snappy the eight actors circle the stage changing from one character to the next with excellent precision. Chairs, jumpers, scarves and tables change hands and move around the stage as swift scene changes occur from announced introductions. When not in use the props hang on walls at either end of the stage. The use of sound and music was subtle and unintrusive, allowing just a hint, to add to the atmosphere.

Each personality different in both movement and vernacular meant these actors had their work cut out, but they have risen to the challenge and produced excellent performances consistently throughout the company. Representing these colourful characters meant that watching these story tellers was rewarding and sometimes amusing.

This piece is extremely powerful and will evoke many emotions and  discussions. We in New Zealand are currently debating gay marriage, so this seems to be a perfect time to discuss and understand the hate that exists in the world and how we wish to evolve as a society.

And that’s what this story is all about, society, our responsibilities to each other in the places that we live whether it be Laramie, Wyoming or elsewhere.

As I said the performances, staging and direction just seem flawless so a huge congratulations goes out to the cast,  Katherine Mc Gill,  Alacrity Productions and the Moving Theatre Company. The Basement Theatre provides an intimate venue for this personal work. I was captivated for the whole performance not only by the story but by actors that told it.

This is a sensitive, intelligent and poignant piece of social commentary told by superbly talented actors.

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later is playing at The Basement Theatre until 8 September. Click here for tickets.

Credits

Featuring; Leon Wadham (Tribes), Martyn Wood (Sexual Perversity in Chicago), Sophie Roberts (Wolf’s Lair), Sophie Hambleton (Top Girls), Simon Leary (Mates and Lovers), Renee Lyons (Joseph and Mahina), Shadon Meredith (TLP: 10)and Veronica Brady (The Arrival).

Directed by Katharine McGill (Munted)

Production/Stage Management/Lighting Design/Operation by Ashlyn Smith

Sound design by Matt Eller

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