Boston University School of Theatre Arts Presents "The Laramie Project"

in Arts, College of Fine Arts, News Releases
April 13th, 2005

Contact: Ellen Carr, 617-353-8783 | emcarr@bu.edu

(Boston)—The Boston University School of Theatre Arts presents “The Laramie Project,” the powerful tale of the 1998 hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, written by Moisès Kaufman and The Members of the Tectonic Theater Project, and directed by Jim Petosa. Performances begin on the Boston University Theatre mainstage on May 4 and run through May 8.

An openly gay man living in the heart of cowboy country, 21-year old Matthew Shepard encountered two acquaintances in a bar one night in October 1998. After a brief conversation, the three men left the bar together. Two days later, Shepard was found on the outskirts of town, savagely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die, in a stunning act of brutality that sent shock waves throughout the country. Was it a simple robbery that spun out of control, or a premeditated crime designed to teach Shepard a vicious lesson? The play begins in the aftermath of the murder, as the people of Laramie struggle to piece together what happened that night, and how their community could have been the site of such a crime. Playwright Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of eighteen months following the crime, and conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town. From these interviews, their own experiences, and using trial documents and other texts, they have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience. Eight actors portray sixty different townspeople, from rural ranchers to university professors, telling the story in their own words, in a mosaic of thoughts and feelings that seeks to transcend the media hype and get at the unvarnished truth of this landmark crime.

“’The Laramie Project’ reveals the people of an American town searching for resolution after a horrible murder that has come to define them to the world,” said Jim Petosa, director of the production. “The play doesn’t judge, but raises questions about the breadth of responsibility, the impact of secretiveness, and the need for change. More than a tract about homophobic homicide, it explores the possibility that culturally sanctioned diminishment of any group of people may lead to violence against them. In our world of 2005, when rhetoric tends to flash hotly, are we, in effect, sowing seeds of anger that may at some future point grow into actions that take us by surprise?”

“The Laramie Project” premiered as a co-production with the Denver Center Theater Company in February 2000, prior to its Off Broadway run at the Union Square Theatre, where it received critical praise and was nominated for a 2001 Drama Desk award. Its HBO film adaptation aired in 2002, earning Moisès Kaufman two Emmy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writer.

Critical Praise for “The Laramie Project”
“One of the 10 best plays of 2000.”
– TIME Magazine
“Deeply moving. This play is Our Town with a question mark, as in ‘Could this be our town?’”
– The New York Times
“Astonishing. Not since ‘Angels in America’ has a play attempted so much: nothing less than an examination of the American psyche at the end of the millennium.”
– Associated Press

Director Jim Petosa is artistic and educational leader of the Boston University School of Theatre Arts, as well as artistic director of the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts outside Washington, D.C. One of two state theatres of Maryland, the Olney is an award-winning regional theatre company that incorporates two additional companies: The National Players, a touring company, and the Potomac Theatre Project, which presents new works focusing on political issues. Mr. Petosa has directed 35 plays in the past five years, including “Copenhagen,” “The Laramie Project,” “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well…,” winner of a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Production, and “Look! We Have Come Through!,” which received a nomination for the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play. Boston audiences are familiar with his work as director of the BU School of Theatre Arts mainstage plays “Romeo and Juliet” (May 2004) and “Amadeus” (December 2002) and the BU Opera Institute productions of “The Rape of Lucretia” (February 2005) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (February 2003).

Playwright Moisès Kaufman is a Tony and Emmy nominated director and award-winning playwright. Most recently, he directed the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning “I Am My Own Wife” on Broadway. His plays “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” and “The Laramie Project” have been among the most performed plays in America over the last decade. In 1992, Kaufman founded the Tectonic Theater Project, a company dedicated to producing innovative works that explore theatrical language and forms, fostering an artistic dialogues with its audiences on social, political and human issues.

Venue, Performance and Ticket Information
Boston University Theatre
264 Huntington Avenue, Boston

Wednesday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. Preview
Thursday, May 5, 7:30 p.m. Opening
Friday, May 6, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 7, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 8, 2:00 p.m.

Tickets $10 general admission,
$8 students and senior citizens, BU community
Box Office 617-933-8600
www.BostonTheatreScene.com

Boston University School of Theatre Arts
The Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre Arts, founded in 1954, is one of the country’s leading institutions for the study of acting, stage management, design and production, and all aspects of the theatrical profession. Notable School of Theatre Arts alumni include actors Jason Alexander, Michael Chiklis, Faye Dunaway, Julianne Moore, Brad Oscar, and Alfre Woodard. Other notable alumni are theatrical producer Stewart Lane, whose recent hits include “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Gypsy,” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie;” Andrew Lack, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment; Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment; Russell Morash, public television producer and creator of “This Old House”; playwrights Craig Lucas and Martin Sherman; and theatre and film production designer Wynn Thomas, whose credits include “A Beautiful Mind,” “Analyze This,” and “Malcolm X.”

The College of Fine Arts at Boston University is a conservatory-style school within a major research university, offering professional training in Music, Theatre Arts, and Visual Arts, along with liberal arts electives, to 1000 graduate and undergraduate students. Education at the College of Fine Arts begins at Boston University and extends into the city of Boston, a center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity.

Media only: Contact Ellen Carr at emcarr@bu.edu or 617-353-8783 for further information or to reserve a ticket to the performance.

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