This past weekend Tectonic Theater Project performed its play cycle on the murder of Matthew Shepard and its effect on the town of Laramie, Wyoming – The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. I was only able to attend the latter on its final night, which deals with the murder’s aftermath through interviews with town residents. It was a moving evening of documentary theater. Though Tectonic does not as yet list future tour performances, the plays are widely produced and I’m sure you will have a chance to see them if you missed this round at Arena Stage.
If not, watch clips online. Maybe while you’re waiting at the airport this week, fire it up. Start a dialogue with the person next to you. Who knows what may happen? You may learn something about the human capacity to alleviate discomfort by forgetting or distorting the past – “the nature of rumor,” as it’s described by a folklorist interviewed in the course of the play.
Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998. I remember it not only as a murder whose horror was shocking in itself, but as an incident that catapulted hate crime and homophobia to the national news. It’s hard for me to stomach that there are college students in Laramie now who have absolutely no idea it happened, but that’s the truth as documented by Tectonic’s actors as they interviewed on campus while creating The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Continue reading