BRATTLEBORO—New England Youth Theatre will present the groundbreaking play The Laramie Project, by Moisés Kaufman, directed by Hallie Flower, at 100 Flat St. on April 6 and 13 at 7 p.m., April 7 and 14 at 2 and 7 p.m., April 8 and 15 at 2 p.m., and April 13 at 7 p.m.
In October 1998, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, severely beaten, and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming.
Five weeks later, Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and, over the course of the next year, conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town.
From these interviews they wrote The Laramie Project, which chronicles the life of the town of Laramie in the year after the murder and has gone on to be one of the most performed plays on American stages.
“Producing this play 20 years after Matthew Shepard’s passing has proven to be a commentary on what has changed in the world, and what, sadly, has remained the same,” director Hallie Flower said in a news release.
The play encourages audiences to engage in dialogue while urging them to action based on their responses to the performance.
Tectonic’s website describes the goal as “to promote thoughtful discussion and give audiences the opportunity to hear many different points of view from those most associated with the murder of Matthew Shepard.”
The entire Laramie Cycle includes Laramie: Ten Years Later, which revisited Laramie to see how the town and its inhabitants had changed in the 10 years since the tragic event.
NEYT will be performing this second piece April 27-29 in a site-specific performance in collaboration with the Brooks House at 6 High Street.
“These kids are bringing a tremendous level of care and respect to the creation of the characters — all of whom are real people,” says Flower, who notes that the company had the rare opportunity to work directly with a member of the Tectonic Theater Project.