Barrington Stage Joins 120 Theatres for The Laramie Project
October 12 Marks The Epilogue - 10 Years Later
By: Larry Murray - Sep 25, 2009
The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, is a new, compelling and groundbreaking epilogue to the play The Laramie Project, reworked to incude local input. The original work was written in response to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. The Barrington reading is being directed by Richard M. Parison, Jr. and features participants from Pittsfield, the Berkshires and beyond.
"We did an open audition for people in Berkshire County, " says Parison, "because there is a part in The Laramie Project that centers on the community itself. That's why it was so important to find people who reflect that. You could say that Laramie, Wyoming is every town.
"So no matter how progressive, liberal or blue state one might think their town or city is, when you peel back the veneer you can be surprised at what you find. People will be pleasantly surprised at what they discover in our own cross section of the local community," he observed.
Beyond the local component, Barrington Stage has also drawn participants from their own family of actors and craftspeople.
"We've asked a number of regulars back to take part in this, and while some live here in the Berkshires, others are returning from New York and beyond. Quite a few people are coming together to bring this show to life."
Though the cast has not yet been formally announced, it's hard to keep secrets in a small community like the Berkshires. Here is what I have heard, subject to official confirmation. Among the Berkshire participants are Mark H. Dold (Freud's Last Session, Private Lives), Tandy Cronyn (Private Lives), Chris Innvar (Carousel, Streetcar, Private Lives), Kevin Carolan (Sleuth, Streetcar) , Jeremy Bobb (Sleuth), Debra Jo Rapp (Mockingbird, That 70's Show). From Shakespeare & Company, Enrico Spada will be taking part, as well as Berkshire residents Jerome Spratling (Mockingbird) and Jeff Kent, Megan Whilden and Ryan Weightman. Whilden and Weightman are well known figures from the Cultual Pittsfield office.
BSC has been quietly doing some fundraising and a portion of the proceeds from contributors and sponsors will go to the Matthew Shepherd Foundation and the HRC. "It may not be a huge amount, but it is a way for those of us in the Berkshires to voice our support against hate crimes." noted Parison.
The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later focuses on the long-term effect of the murder of Matthew Shepard on the town of Laramie. It explores how the town has changed and how the murder continues to reverberate in the community. The play also includes new interviews with Matthew's mother Judy Shepard and Matthew's murderer Aaron McKinney, who's serving dual life sentences, as well as follow-up interviews with many of the individuals from the original piece.
Parison went on to talk about how the Matthew Shepherd story is a family story, for this tragedy did not happen in a vacuum. The young man's murder affected his dad, his mom Judy Shepherd, and grandparents, aunts, uncles and the whole community. "That's exactly the point," said Parison, "and we want to be sure that this event is accessible to all. The story of his family, and his extended family is an important one to be told, it is a ten year journey.
"For most of the other 119 theatres, The Laramie Project will take place in the evening. But we've scheduled an afternoon performance (at 3 PM in addition to 7 PM). There will be post-show conversation and dialogue after both. In October, it's starting to get dark by six and we do have a lot of matinee subscribers. They deserve to be part of this, too. We want seniors and the elderly to share it as fully as have the teenagers who have performed the original work in high schools all over the country."
Tickets are now available for the Berkshire area presentation on October 12 at 3 and 7 PM. They join more than 120 theaters from around the globe in simultaneously presenting the work which is still being created as you read this. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students) and are available now through the Barrington Stage Company box office 413.236.8888 and online http://www.barringtonstageco.org/
In tandem with the premiere, an interactive online community will be launched where participants can blog, upload video and photos, and share stories about the play, as well as their experiences in preparing and presenting the epilogue in their communities. The members of Tectonic Theater Project will be active participants in the online community, offering participants feedback and encouragement. The interactive community, including links to participating theaters, can be found at The Laramie Project website (link in next paragraph).
About The Laramie Project
On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die tied to a fence in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. He died six days later. His murder became a watershed historical moment in America that highlighted the violence and prejudice lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face. A month after the murder, the members of Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people of the town. From these interviews they wrote the play The Laramie Project, which premiered in February 2000 and, in 2002, was made into a film for HBO. The piece has been seen by more than 50 million people around the country. Tectonic Theater Project has acknowledged the extraordinary leadership of The Rockefeller Foundation in supporting the development of the original Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. http://community.laramieproject.org/
Supporting the Local Production
Readers can help raise awareness in the community and fight intolerance and prejudice by supporting this production. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which works to share Matthew's dream of replacing the hate in the world with understanding, compassion, and acceptance.
Sponsorships range from $25 and up and receive a listing in the show's playbill if received by October 4.
Sponsors at $100 or more will receive the following benefits: Listing in the playbill as a "Special Benefactor"· Two tickets to the performance (3pm or 7pm) · Invitation for two to a post-show party at Jae's Spice directly following the 7pm performance. When making a contribution http://www.barringtonstageco.org make sure you select "Laramie Project Sponsor" from the drop-down menu.
About Tectonic Theater Project
Tectonic Theater Project (Moisés Kaufman, Artistic Director; Greg Reiner, Executive Director; Jeffrey LaHoste, Managing Director; Dominick Balletta, General Manager) is the company behind such plays as Gross Indecency, The Laramie Project, and I Am My Own Wife which was presented at Barrington Stage in May of 2008 and received extraordinary coverage in Berkshire Fine Arts.
The Laramie Project has received many awards including the Humanitas Prize, the Obie, the Lucille Lortel Award, The Outer Critics Circle Award, the GLAAD Media Award, the Artistic Integrity Award from HRC, and the Making a Difference Award/Matthew Shepard Foundation. Tectonic works in universities around the country and hosts a New York based lab for theater artists. Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, Greenwall Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Small Change Foundation and Educational Foundation of America. For more information, visit www.TectonicTheaterProject.org.