“Laramie Project” at Telluride’s Opera House

“Laramie Project” at Telluride’s Opera House

Unknown In March, a woman came to Telluride to talk about her son. One person in particular did more than listen. Jen Julia, director of Sheridan Arts Foundation's Young People's Theater company, followed Mary Shepard's example turning words into action. On Wednesday, May 12, 6 p.m., members of the SAF Young People's Theater high school acting group, Julia's "company," perform a staged reading of "The Laramie Project,"  a play based on the events surrounding the murder of Judy's son Matthew Shepard.

On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was discovered bound to a fence in the hills outside Laramie, Wyoming, savagely beaten and left to die, an act of brutality and hate that shocked the nation. Judy Shepard's response was to turn personal tragedy into an international crusade, creating The Matthew Shepard Foundation to promote tolerance and diversity. Moises Kaufman & Co. created a play to honor Matthew's memory and advocate justice for all.

Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project were moved to make a number of trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the deadly beating, conducting more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. From these interviews as well as their own experiences, Kaufman's group constructed a deeply moving theater piece. The Laramie Project chronicles the life of the town of Laramie in the year after the murder. From rural ranchers to university professors, we hear the voices of Laramie in the wake of the tragic events that occurred there.  

“The decision to perform a staged reading of 'The Laramie Project' came after Judy Shepard’s visit in March, which galvanized me and my students and compelled us to continue the discussion," explained Julia. "The Young People’s Theater is predominately a musical theater program, so doing a program like this, working with such serious and emotionally-charged material based on the real words of real people, marks a huge but important departure from the norm.'The Laramie Project' is thought-provoking and inspiring."

To learn more about what Judy Shepard said last March in an interview with Telluride Inside… and Out, go to /2010/02/judy-shepard-to-speak-during-tellurides-gay-ski-week.html.

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