OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU one of 100 theaters worldwide to premiere “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later”

09/22/2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Theatre will be one of 100 theaters in the world to premiere “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,” an epilogue to the highly acclaimed play, “The Laramie Project,” which is one of the most performed plays in America of the last decade.

The premiere will take place on Monday, Oct. 12, at OSU’s Withycombe Hall main stage beginning at 7:30 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public.

The original play, “The Laramie Project,” used real interviews to detail the events following the murder of openly gay 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard, in 1998. The play was staged on the Oregon State campus in November 2003, directed by OSU’s Charlotte Headrick, who will also coordinate the new epilogue for the campus production.

“Directing ‘The Laramie Project’ in 2003 was one of the highlights of my teaching career,” Headrick said. “To have the opportunity to be part of this worldwide premiere of this important piece of art is a real honor.”

The event is sponsored by OSU University Theatre, The Pride Center and the Office of LGBT Outreach & Services.

The writers of the new play are New York-based Tectonic Theater Project members Moisés 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 Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard, and the man convicted of his murder, Aaron McKinney, who is serving two consecutive life sentences. The writers also conducted many follow-up interviews with Laramie residents.

In conjunction with the worldwide premiere of the play, 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.

On Oct. 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. He died six days later. His murder became a watershed historical moment in America that highlighted the prejudice – and sometimes violence – faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

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 and was nominated for four Emmy Awards.