THE STORY: On November 6, 1998, gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard left the Fireside Bar with Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. The following day he was discovered on a prairie at the edge of town, tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and close to death. Six days later Matthew Shepard died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado. On November 14th, 1998, ten members of Tectonic Theatre Project traveled to Laramie, Wyoming and conducted interviews with the people of the town. Over the next year, the company returned to Laramie six times and conducted over 200 interviews. These texts became the basis for the play The Laramie Project. Ten years later on September 12th, 2008, five members of Tectonic returned to Laramie to try to understand the long-term effect of the murder. They found a town wrestling with its legacy and its place in history. In addition to revisiting the folks whose words riveted us in the original play, this time around, the company also spoke with the two murderers, McKinney and Henderson, as well as Matthew's mother, Judy Shepard. THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER is a bold new work, which asks the question, "How does society write its own history?"
The Laramie Project, one of the most-performed theater pieces in America, has become a modern classic. In this expanded edition, it is joined by an essential and moving sequel to the original play. On October 7, 1998, a young gay man was discovered bound to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming, savagely beaten and left to die in an act of brutality and hate that shocked the nation. Matthew Shepard’s death became a national symbol of intolerance, but for the people of the town, the event was deeply personal. In the aftermath, Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and conducted more than 200 interviews with its citizens. From the transcripts, the playwrights constructed an extraordinary chronicle of life in the town after the murder. In The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, the troupe revisits the town a decade after the tragedy, finding a community grappling with its legacy and its place in history. The two plays together comprise an epic and deeply moving theatrical cycle that explores the life of an American town over the course a decade.
A Study Guide for Moises Kaufman's "The Laramie Project," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Drama For Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Drama For Students for all of your research needs.
Documentary Theatre and Its Impact on Students, School and Community
Author: Robert Jay Henrichs
"The culmination of the two year process of researching, casting, rehearsing and producing the socially relevant play, The Laramie project, by Moises Kaufman and members of Tectonic Theater Project" --abstract.
The Tectonic Theater Project (TTP) under the leadership of Moisés Kaufman began their ethnographic research in Laramie, Wyoming in November 1998, four weeks after the murder of Matthew Shepard. The impact of The Laramie Project is significant as an example of theatre for social change; however the methods used by the TTP to gather and disseminate their research material for this project are often overlooked. Furthermore a full-length epilogue, published ten years after the original performance, reassesses the research and results, developing a complicated field of ethical dilemmas in representation. This article maps the ways in which The Laramie Project is connected to and also how it significantly departs from the codes of ethics outlined by three leading anthropological organizations and considers the challenges inherent in performance as representation. Documentary drama, like The Laramie Project, becomes a rich and useful space for rehearsing the ways in which ethics guide fieldwork in anthropology and performance, and how these disciplines might learn from and employ particular strategies inherent to each discipline.
This book demonstrates the political potential of mainstream theatre in the US at the end of the twentieth century, tracing ideological change over time in the reception of US mainstream plays taking HIV/AIDS as their topic from 1985 to 2000. This is the first study to combine the topics of the politics of performance, LGBT theatre, and mainstream theatre’s political potential, a juxtaposition that shows how radical ideas become mainstream, that is, how the dominant ideology changes. Using materialist semiotics and extensive archival research, Juntunen delineates the cultural history of four pivotal productions from that period—Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart (1985), Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (1992), Jonathan Larson’s Rent (1996), and Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project (2000). Examining the connection between AIDS, mainstream theatre, and the media reveals key systems at work in ideological change over time during a deadly epidemic whose effects changed the nation forever. Employing media theory alongside nationalism studies and utilizing dozens of reviews for each case study, the volume demonstrates that reviews are valuable evidence of how a production was hailed by society’s ideological gatekeepers. Mixing this new use of reviews alongside textual analysis and material study—such as the theaters’ locations, architectures, merchandise, program notes, and advertising—creates an uncommonly rich description of these productions and their ideological effects. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of theatre, politics, media studies, queer theory, and US history, and to those with an interest in gay civil rights, one of the most successful social movements of the late twentieth century.
"Jill Dolan is the theatre's most astute critic, and this new book is perhaps her most important. Utopia in Performance argues with eloquence and insight how theatre makes a difference, and in the process demonstrates that scholarship matters, too. It is a book that readers will cherish and hold close as a personal favorite, and that scholars will cite for years to come." ---David Román, University of Southern California What is it about performance that draws people to sit and listen attentively in a theater, hoping to be moved and provoked, challenged and comforted? In Utopia in Performance, Jill Dolan traces the sense of visceral, emotional, and social connection that we experience at such times, connections that allow us to feel for a moment not what a better world might look like, but what it might feel like, and how that hopeful utopic sentiment might become motivation for social change. She traces these "utopian performatives" in a range of performances, including the solo performances of feminist artists Holly Hughes, Deb Margolin, and Peggy Shaw; multicharacter solo performances by Lily Tomlin, Danny Hoch, and Anna Deavere Smith; the slam poetry event Def Poetry Jam; The Laramie Project; Blanket, a performance by postmodern choreographer Ann Carlson; Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman; and Deborah Warner's production of Medea starring Fiona Shaw. While the book richly captures moments of "feeling utopia" found within specific performances, it also celebrates the broad potential that performance has to provide a forum for being human together; for feeling love, hope, and commonality in particular and historical (rather than universal and transcendent) ways.
In 1998, the horrific murders of Matthew Shepard -- a gay man living in Laramie, Wyoming -- and James Byrd Jr. -- an African American man dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas -- provoked a passionate public outrage. The intense media coverage of the murders made moments of violence based in racism and homophobia highly visible and which eventually led to the passage of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. The role the media played in cultivating, shaping, and directing the collective emotional response toward these crimes is the subject of this gripping new book by Jennifer Petersen. Tracing the emotional exchange from news stories to the creation of law, Petersen calls for an approach to media and democratic politics that takes into account the role of affect in the political and legal life of the nation.
The essays gathered together in Volume 15 of the annual journal Theatre Symposium investigate how, historically, the theatre has been perceived both as a source of moral anxiety and as an instrument of moral and social reform. Essays consider, among other subjects, ethnographic depictions of the savage “other” in Buffalo Bill’s engagement at the Columbian Exposition of 1893; the so-called “Moral Reform Melodrama” in the nineteenth century; charity theatricals and the ways they negotiated standards of middle-class respectability; the figure of the courtesan as a barometer of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century moral and sexual discourse; Aphra Behn’s subversion of Restoration patriarchal sexual norms in The Feigned Courtesans; and the controversy surrounding one production of Tony Kushner Angels in America, during which officials at one of the nation’s more prominent liberal arts colleges attempted to censor the production, a chilling reminder that academic and artistic freedom cannot be taken for granted in today’s polarized moral and political atmosphere.