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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Online ‘The Laramie Project’ set in Green Bay

Critic At Large

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre

Production poster. (UW-Green Bay)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre will present “The Laramie Project” online April 29-May 2. Info: uwgb.edu/theatre/.

Registration is required to receive the free streaming link. Audiences should be aware the production contains adult content and strong language, including profanity and hate speech and is recommended for mature audiences. There is no live, in-person audience because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release: The production will close the theater program’s 2020-21 season of plays designed to create social awareness.

Written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Company, following a horrific crime – the murder of Matthew Shepard – the production “examines our ability to hate, love and understand through the eyes of the citizens of Laramie, Wyoming.”

The product of more than 200 interviews with the citizens of Laramie, the catalyst for “The Laramie Project” was the 1998 murder of college student Matthew Shepard. Severely beaten, tied to a fencepost and left for dead in the middle of the prairie, Matthew survived for several days before succumbing to his injuries. The motivation behind such a heinous crime: Matthew Shepard was gay. 

“The Laramie Project” chronicles the months that followed Matthew’s murder, as the citizens of Laramie sought to understand how such a crime could happen in their town. The Tectonic Theater interviewers questioned if Laramie is so different than any other town in America.

Directed by Rebecca Stone Thornberry, UWGB Theatre’s production features a diverse cast with each actor playing multiple roles. The play contains more than 60 characters.

“A powerful production examining the prejudice and bias against the LGBTQ community, the play also offers hope by exploring our ability to rise above a tragedy, as well as inspiration that change and a more accepting culture can be achieved,” the press release says.

The play is an example of a specific style, called verbatim theater, in which a theatrical researcher or researchers conduct interviews and create a play from what they have found and/or in the words of those interviewed. Recent examples locally are “The Drawer Boy,” from Canada, produced by Birder Players of De Pere, and “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,” another production of UWGB Theatre.

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