‘Laramie Project’ Explores Reaction to 1998 Hate Crime

Performance by Alma College Theatre analyzes the effect that hate crimes have on the communities where they are perpetrated.

“The Laramie Project” prompts audiences to analyze LGBTQ rights and the effect that hate crimes have on the communities where they are perpetrated.

Alma College Theatre will perform “The Laramie Project” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6, Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 9. Performances will take place in the Remick Heritage Center, Strosacker Theatre.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.

An Inspiration for Activism

Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project wrote “The Laramie Project” in the year following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. Shepard was a young gay man who had undergone previous assaults due to his sexual orientation.

Just after midnight on Oct. 7, 1998, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson lured Shepard away from a bar, drove him to a rural area and tied him to a split-rail fence. McKinney and Henderson then severely beat Shepard with the butt of a pistol and left him for dead.

Eighteen hours later a bicyclist found Shepard, who was then transported to a nearby hospital suffering from multiple severe injuries and hypothermia. Six days later he passed away.

This crime, one of the most notorious in America’s history, has served as an inspiration for activism against hate crimes and in support of the LGBTQ community.

“The recent political upheaval has left LGBTQ rights under attack. This play is a reminder of why those rights are important,” says Director of Theatre Scott Mackenzie.

Play Based on Interviews with Laramie Residents

“The Laramie Project” is based upon the 200-plus interviews that the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project conducted with the residents of Laramie in the year following Shepard’s death.

“I think we’ll have a very strong production,” says Mackenzie. “The cast is fully committed to what the play has to say and, while the play is quite serious, there are some moments of levity as well.”

“The Laramie Project” student actors include:

  • Merek Alam, Davidson first-year student
  • Mary Benson, Grand Rapids senior
  • Cosette Coston, Triverton, Rhode Island, first-year student
  • Asiel Clark, Lincoln Park first-year student
  • Anna Dillingham, Armada first-year student
  • Maxwell Flagler, Spring Lake junior
  • Ariel Frost, Kodiak, Alaska, sophomore
  • Conner Garma, West Branch first-year student
  • William Harrison, Belding first-year student
  • Amber Isaacson, Battle Creek senior
  • Josh Kartes, West Branch first-year students
  • Josh Zeitler, Alma senior
Story published on March 22, 2017