The terrible death of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was beaten, tied to a fence and left to die on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998, moved director Moisés Kaufman and his fellow artists in the Tectonic Theatre Project to respond as artists do. The Laramie Project, based on interviews with the town's citizens and Shepard's family, has been produced all over the United States in the past decade, was made into an HBO movie and has been seen by more than 50 million people.
Now Kaufman and fellow writers Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber are taking another look at the tragedy and the town. The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later will be a large-scale performance of an 80-minute epilogue dealing with the murder's long-term effects on the town -- including material from interviews with Shepard's mother Judy and one of his killers, Aaron McKinney.
Just how big is The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later? On Oct. 12, it will get a reading/performance at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York (actors from the original production and the HBO movie are on board for that one) and at more than 100 theaters across the United States. Two of those theaters are in Florida: Sarasota's Asolo Repertory Theatre and Manalapan's Florida Stage.
Lou Tyrrell, Florida Stage's artistic director, says, "This important piece of theater tells a universal human story and has been a transformative experience for the cast and audience. Our hope is that the epilogue helps us better understand the impact of Matthew's death as well as provide truth and context as this piece of American history is retold to new generations."
Tickets to the Florida Stage reading will be $30, with the money shared evenly among the Palm Beach Human Rights Coalition, Compass and The Matthew Shepard Foundation. They'll be available in September via Florida Stage's web site or at its box office.
The project's own web site will become an online community where videos of the many different readings get posted.