The story of Matthew Shepard
Location and Time: Thursday 1st August 2012, the Metropolitan Arts Centre theatre; an intimate theatre of approximately 112 seats.
The play was ‘The Laramie Project’ which was written by Moses Kaufmann and members of the Tyectonic Theater Project, but our production was performed and orchestrated by the Dundonald Association of Music and Drama (DAMD) sponsored by the Police Service of N Ireland (PSNI) and The Rainbow Project.
The Laramie Project is a verbatim play about the reaction to the torture and murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998; he was a young gay man who was robbed, viciously beaten and left tied to a fence to die. Although he was soon found by the police and hospitalized, he soon expired. Matthew was a student in Laramie, Wyoming and this play is based on a series of interviews conducted with Laramie residents in the aftermath of his murder. Matthew’s murder focused attention on the lack of hate crime legislation in various states including Wyoming.
DAMD were formed in July 2009 by Melissa Smith. DAMD’s artistic mission is to engage their community in theatre that makes you think or blink with tears). ‘If we can inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate or empower artists and audiences b y providing a quality performing arts experience then we retire happily with our bedtime cocoa.’
The stage setting consisted of eight chairs with a ‘goodies’ box beside each containing various individual props, and a stand for the presenter who guided us through the performance.
The performance was riveting, and it indeed did bring this audience member to tears as he remembered the harrowing news items from the time, and how utterly soul destroying the story was as it unfolded, including the trial. The subsequent theatre production and also the movie release with of the Laramie Project and also the Matthew Shepard Story with Sam Waterston as the father of Matthew kept the story alive and in people minds, and continued to pile pressure on the USA legislature and government and local states.
DAMD’s performance was startling real, the accents were faultless ( at least to my ears), and the minimlist stage setting helped to focus attention on the dialogue, the speakers and the story.
The Laramie Project is often used as a method to teach about prejudice and tolerance in personal, social, and health education and citizenship in schools, and it has also been used in the UK as a General Certificate of Secondary Education text for English literature. Having just been to an event during Belfast Pride about how our N Ireland Library Service for Schools is currently unable to provide the service needed for LGBT youth, and that a survey of LGBT books in school libraries only returned one item throughout Northern Ireland, it would seem that we need to put on more productions of this play, and especially try to get it seen within our school and college systems.
- [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laramie_Project” blank=”true”]The Laramie Project[/button_icon]
- [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laramie_Project_%28film%29″ blank=”true”]The Laramie Project (film)[/button_icon]
- [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matthew_Shepard_Story” blank=”true”]The Matthew Shepard Story[/button_icon]
- [button_icon icon=”camera” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiKBv29xvS8″ blank=”true”]Youtube: The Matthew Shepard Story [/button_icon]
- [button_icon icon=”camera” url=”Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1qiTmF0p4A” blank=”true”]The Laramie Project[/button_icon]
- [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://www.laramieproject.org/” blank=”true” colour=”green”]The Laramie Project Website & Charity[/button_icon]