Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman

Title:  The Laramie Project

Publisher:  Vintage Books

Pages:  112

Genre:  Non fiction drama

Setting:  Laramie, Wyoming

Where did you get it? My school's bookstore.

Why did you read it? It was required upper level, undergrad reading for my drama class.

From the publisher:  On October 7, 1998, a young gay man was discovered bound to a fence in the hills outside Laramie, Wyoming, savagely beaten and left to die in an act of hate that shocked the nation. Matthew Shepard’s death became a national symbol of intolerance, but for the people of Laramie the event was deeply personal, and it’s they we hear in this stunningly effective theater piece, a deeply complex portrait of a community.

What did you think?  We were required to read five plays this semester and The Laramie Project was, by far, my favorite. It was the most evocative, thought provoking, and poignant piece of literature I've read and not just for this class.

It reads like a docudrama. The members of the Tectonic Theater Group conducted something like 200+ interviews with the people of Laramie and those that were involved in the case. The theater group then transcribed the interviews and composed them into dialogue for the play. They also related their own experiences and reactions to the events and people of Laramie, thus, becoming an integral part of the play themselves. Eight actors of the theater group were used to act out the parts for the 60 different people interviewed.

The play was also divided up into "moments" and not scenes. These moments were snapshots into the minds and lives of the people of Laramie. These moments served to make the drama more memorable and brings the audience into the play by making it seem like these moments were being shared the same way as if you were the one sitting down with each individual and having a conversation.

Moises Kaufman's method and vision brings the play to life and the horrible tragedy of Matthew Shepard's death in such a unique way. It left an indelible impression on me and I count myself lucky that this was required reading.

Final Notes:  I am embarrassed to admit that I have absolutely no memory of this happening and didn't know anything about it until I read the play last week, 15 years after the fact. The Mister and I were talking about it and thinking back, all the drama happened when I was pregnant with the Youngest child, moving back to Ohio after running from a hurricane in Florida, and dealing with all that change. I was also staying with my mom in Ohio who refuses to watch the news. Still, considering the vigils and demonstrations that were held nationwide in honor of Matthew and the incident in New York that led to civil disobedience and hundreds of arrests, you would think that I would have heard something.

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