On the heels of the U.S. Justice Department issuing its first indictment under the hate crimes protection law afforded by the Matthew Shepard Act, the is proud to present a limited engagement of The Laramie Project, written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project.
The Laramie Project is a thought provoking, critically acclaimed and emotionally riveting drama about an incomprehensible crime that thrusts a small town into the national spotlight. A portion of the proceeds for this limited run will benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation in Ridgewood.
Under the direction of Alyson Cohn, The Laramie Project will be performed only twice at the Little Firehouse Theatre in Oradell on Saturday, May 19 at 2pm and Sunday, May 20 at 7pm. All tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at BCPlayers.org, calling 201-261-4200 or by visiting the box office at 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell during regular box office hours.
“For me this play is no longer about Laramie or a particular victim,” says Cohn. “Hate crimes are committed everywhere at every minute of every day. Unfortunately, this story and those like it cannot be overstated, overdone or overplayed.”
Immediately following each performance of The Laramie Project there will be a special post-show Talkback session with the cast, crew and director, as well as with representatives of the LGBTQ community to answer questions raised by the play. The discussion will also address local bullying and hate crimes.
On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was kidnapped, savagely beaten and left to die while tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. His bloody, bruised and battered body was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in an area hospital. This act of brutality and hate shocked the nation.
In The Laramie Project, a chorus of voices brings to life the thoughts and feelings of the people of Laramie, Wyoming as they react to the murder, which was denounced as a hate crime motivated by homophobia. The play brought attention to the lack of hate crime laws in various states, including Wyoming. Matthew Shepard's murder became a national symbol of intolerance. This single event was examined within the framework of a portrait of Laramie by company members of Tectonic Theatre Project and director Moisés Kaufman, who spent a year conducting hundreds of interviews with the town's affected citizens. Out of those candid interviews, company members’ own journal entries and published news reports comes this play—a riveting, deeply moving and inspiring theater event.
A talented cast of eight actors portray more than sixty characters in The Laramie Project. The veteran cast includes Steve Bell of Teaneck, Amy Edelstein of New York City, Lena Grotticelli of Mahwah, Merielle Lupfer of Hillsdale, Chris Nelson of Westwood, Frank Osmers of Haworth, Sharon Podsada of Emerson, and Andrew Van Buskirk of Ridgewood.
Bergen County Players will be selling rubber "Erase Hate" bracelets for $3 each at the performances. All proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will be donated to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation was formed to promote awareness and respect for human dignity and privacy, as well as personal responsibility among our youth, in both their personal and digital lives. It supports young people at risk of suicide by promoting education and intervention for our youth, parents, teachers, and mentors. The Foundation’s goals are to raise awareness of the issues surrounding and support organizations concerned with suicide prevention, acceptance of LGBT teens, and education against internet cyber bullying.
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.