It happened in this country and it could happen again. The place was Laramie, Wyoming, and the crime, awful. A young man was tied to a fence, seriously beaten, and left to die because of his sexual orientation. His name was Matthew Shepard, and this nation’s history may never forget him. With quality plays like The Laramie Project, his death will linger in our minds for years to come. What a relief it is to enter a theatre and be presented with the bare facts within this well-told production. It bravely leaves the audience to decide what is right and wrong.
Laramie is much more than a show about a hate crime against a gay college student. It is about the deep-seated hate that can be found within many Americans still to this day. This type of hate becomes vicious and eventually intrudes itself upon other human beings’ ways of life. It is hate that wastes time, energy and space, and Laramie makes sure to run this beneath its surface. It is a sad story, one that will bring tears to your eyes, and also make you uncomfortable and angry-this is the premise to the show, and it is one formula that is utilized in all efficacious theatre.
Stories of this nature tend to border queasy melodrama for an audience, but fortunately, this production never does. It becomes obvious as one is viewing the show that much effort and commitment was put into it. Director Vincent J. Cardinal does a wonderful job in visualizing/blocking each sequence – a very difficult task in this particular instance considering the demands of the script. To aid the direction, it would not be fair to single out any names from the 13-member cast, being that they are all equally as compelling and invested in this wonderful piece. The technical crew also helps greatly in assisting the piece’s almost seamless movement into numerous segues. They come together to provide a most enjoyable and moving experience.
The Denver Theatre Company, located in New York City, produced the United States World Premiere of The Laramie Project. A few years later, the play found a home in a world that remains burgeoning with hate and strife, with no signs of letting up. One historical incident or play might not be able to change the world, but this is a damn fine display of faith.
The Laramie Project plays until Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Ring Theater with performances from Tuesday to Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tuesday night performances are free to UM students.
Josh Caraballo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.