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Author’s Note

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Laramie Project had its world premiere at Denver Center Theatre Company in Denver, Colorado, in 2000. At that time, none of us could have imagined the groundswell of interest and productions that would spring up from there. The Laramie Project has gone on to be one of the most produced plays in the country for over a decade. As writers we have often been asked—and asked ourselves—why is this so?

One answer is that interest in The Laramie Project is a testament to the legacy of Matthew Shepard. His life and his death brought meaning to many lives beyond Laramie.

A second answer comes directly from the participants in the productions themselves. These productions run the spectrum—from professional companies to amateur companies and community theaters to college and high school productions. In the age of social networking and the internet we often hear directly from these students—their passion for this work is remarkable. We recognize that students, teachers, and administrators have in some cases endeavored to produce Laramie at great personal and professional risk; the subjects of hate crime and homophobia have outlined deep divides within some communities.

Laramie is the story of an American town, but it is also the story of ordinary Americans who created a conversation unlike any that had happened up to that point in history. These were ordinary people who faced extraordinary circumstances. Matthew Shepard’s murder was a moment in history that revealed both the best and worst in human character and experience.

As a theater company, we had the great privilege of speaking at length with the residents of Laramie, Wyoming, multiple times over the period of a year and a half in the aftermath of the brutal hate crime of Matthew Shepard. Those interviews provided the foundation for the writing of The Laramie Project.

Laramie resident Jonas Slonaker asks at the end of The Laramie Project: “What’s come out of it? What’s come out of this that’s concrete or lasting?” Ten years later, we decided to return to Laramie to see how the people of the town had changed. We caught up with many of our original interviewees to talk with them again about how their town had changed. We talked to new people as well, including the perpetrators Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, as well as Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard.

With the tenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder approaching, Moisés Kaufman, Artistic Director of Tectonic Theater Project, asked, “How does a community write its own history?” Under a microscope for ten years, having been associated with such a brutal crime, how has Laramie responded? We have heard people all over the country and all over the world say that Laramie is just like their town. How have we as a nation and as a global community responded?

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later was written as a stand-alone play. That is, it does not have to be performed in conjunction with the original play. However, we hope that towns and cities and schools across the country who have performed The Laramie Project will also perform this epilogue in their communities. And we are excited by the possibility that the two plays could run in repertory to give the full breadth and scope of Laramie’s journey.

The world premiere of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later took place on the eleventh anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard. It was performed at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall by the original cast of The Laramie Project. The play was performed simultaneously in more than one hundred and fifty theaters across the country and around the world.

We are honored to be part of this ongoing story of an American town. And we are thrilled to share this conversation with all of you.”[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Author Profiles

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”12701″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” title=”Moises Kaufman”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Moises Kaufman is a playwright, director, and founder of the Tectonic Theater Project based in New York City. Kaufman was born in Caracas, Venezuela on November 21, 1963. His family is Orthodox Jewish of Romanian and Ukrainian descent. He attended a yeshiva (a Jewish religious school) as a child. While growing up, he was first exposed to theatre on family vacations to New York City. As a teenager, he attended a Caracas theatre festival which introduced him to the work of avant grade theater artists Peter Brook, Tadeusz Kantor, Pina Bausch, and Jerzy Grotowski, whom he cites as his earliest influences. He attended Metropolitan University in Caracas. During his time at university, he acted in a touring experimental theatre group. In 1987, Kaufman moved to New York City to study directing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Performing Arts. Four years later, he and his partner, Jeffrey LaHoste, created the Tectonic Theater Project. The company is dedicated to addressing contemporary social issues, as well as to explore the structure and language of theatre. Kaufman has stated that he is primarily drawn to moments in history that unintentionally reveal a society’s views and belief systems. His first play, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, premiered in New York City in 1997. It won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway play. From 1998-1999, Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie, Wyoming to interview those connected to the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. The ensuing work compiled from their interviews, The Laramie Project, premiered in 2000 and was made into a film for HBO on 2001. The play gathered a worldwide following and has become a seminal work for the LGBQT community and for professional theaters, universities, high schools, and community theaters. In 2003, Kaufman directed Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife: Studies for a Play About Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. The play follows a gay transvestite who survived life in Nazi Germany and Soviet East Berlin. Kaufman received a Tony Award nomination for his direction. In 2007, Kaufman directed for Broadway again, this time for his own play, 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda as a musicologist obsessed with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. This garnered him his second Tony nomination. In 2009, Kaufman and other members of the Tectonic Theater Project reunited to create The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, a sequel to the original piece. It was performed in staged readings around the globe. In 2011, he directed Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger At the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway starring Robin Williams. In 2012, he directed a revival of Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s The Heiress on Broadway. Mr. Kaufman has been honored with a Steinberg/ATCA Best New Play Award, a Dike Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a GLAAD Media Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, a Carbonell Award, a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award, a Lambda Book Award, Venezuela’s Casa del Artista, American Library Association’s GLBT Literature Award, the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s “Making A Difference Award”, the Artistic Integrity Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the National Board of Review Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, a Golden Bear Award from the Berlin Film Festival, the Humanitas Prize,the Joe A. Callaway Award, and two Tony Award nominations. For more information on the Tectonic Theater Project, visit their website: http://tectonictheaterproject.org.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”12703″ img_size=”Medium” alignment=”center” title=”Leigh Fondakowski”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]

Leigh Fondakowski was the head writer on The Laramie Project, a co-writer of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, and an Emmy-nominated co-screenwriter for the HBO adaptation of The Laramie Project. She has been a member of Tectonic since 1994. Her original works as playwright/director include SPILL (Swine Palace, TimeLine Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 2015 Kilroy List); The People’s Temple (Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Theater Company, the Guthrie Theater, Glickman Award for Best New Play in the Bay Area 2005); and I Think I Like Girls (Encore Theater, Bay Area Critics Circle nomination for Best Production, voted one of the top ten plays of 2002 by the Advocate). Leigh was a 2007 recipient of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, a 2009 MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a 2010 Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Minnesota, where she lectured and developed Casa Cushman, a work-in-progress about nineteenth-century American actress Charlotte Cushman. As director, she headed the national tour of The Laramie Project and Laramie: Ten Years Later, and co-directed The Laramie Cycle with Moisés Kaufman at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has directed and developed plays with playwrights Anne Marie Cummings, Colman Domingo, Laura Eason, Julia Jordan, Deb Margolin, Lisa Ramirez, Ellen Gordon Reeves, and Bennett Singer. In 2013, she released her first nonfiction book, “Stories from Jonestown,” and she is currently adapting it for film. Leigh is a teaching artist at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and Naropa University.

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Greg Pierotti joined Tectonic Theater Project as an actor in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde in 1996. He was an actor and an associate writer on The Laramie Project. He was co-writer of the HBO teleplay The Laramie Project, for which he and fellow company members share a Humanitas Prize and an Emmy nomination. He was a co-writer on Laramie: Ten Years Later. As a writer and actor with Tectonic he has performed and developed original work at La Jolla Playhouse, Denver Center, Minetta Lane, Union Square Theater, Alice Tully Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Arena Stage, The Magic, The Atlantic Theatre Company, Sundance Theater Lab, and NYTW’s lab at Dartmouth. He has been a master teacher of Moment Work since 2004. He was head writer on Leigh Fondakowski’s The People’s Temple. He has developed his plays Apology and B More at Berkeley Repertory’s Ground Floor, The Orchard Project, The University of California–Davis, and at Maison Dora Maar in Ménerbes, France, where he was a Brown Fellow. He is a nominee for the Alpert Award in the arts in the category of theater. His latest research explores cross-pollinations between theater and anthropology. He uses theatrical devising techniques to help ethnographic writers create performance or to re-engage the empirical data they have collected in field research as they write. He is an assistant professor in the MFA of generative dramaturgy at the University of Arizona.

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Andy Paris is an original member of Tectonic, first performing in Moisés Kaufman’s staging of Machinal at the Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU. Other work with Tectonic includes Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, Migration and Longing (both as co-director with Mr. Kaufman) at ETW, and direction of Uncommon Sense, co-written with Anushka Paris-Carter. Andy helped develop Moment Work and teaches at all levels locally and internationally. He has served as adjunct faculty at NYU and Hunter College, and has taught workshops at DePaul, Sarah Lawrence, Amherst College, Bucknell, and Western Australia Academy of the Arts, among others. Credits outside Tectonic include, as writer/director, Going Public, The American Family, and The Fanmaker’s Inquisition (along with Ms. Paris-Carter); as director, Goldstar Ohio and The Stages of Burning; and as a performer and co-writer, The Corporate Carnival. As an actor Andy performed in and helped develop several new works, including Liz Duffy Adams’s Or, Lucie Tiberghien’s The Quiet Room, Rachel Dickstein’s Innocents, The Talking Band’s The Necklace, Matthew Maguire’s Phaedre, and Deb Margolin’s Indelible Flesh. Regionally he has been seen at Denver Center, The Huntington, Playmaker’s Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hartford Stage, Theatre Virginia, Berkeley Rep, and La Jolla Playhouse. Film/TV credits include The Laramie Project (HBO) and Law & Order (NBC). He has also been the recipient of two AUDIE Awards and a Society of Voice Arts Award for his audiobook narrations.

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Stephen Belber’s plays have been produced on Broadway and in over 25 countries. They include Match, Tape, Don’t Go Gentle, Dusk Rings a Bell, McReele, Finally, Geometry of Fire, Fault Lines, Carol Mulroney, A Small, Melodramatic Story, One Million Butterflies, The Power of Duff and The Muscles In Our Toes. Theaters where he has been produced include Roundabout, Atlantic, MCC, Primary Stages, Naked Angels, Labyrinth, Rattlestick, The Huntington and The Geffen. He was an Associate Writer on The Laramie Project, and co-writer on The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Movies include Tape (directed by Richard Linklater), The Laramie Project (Associate Writer), Drifting Elegant, Management, starring Jennifer Aniston, and Match, starring Patrick Stewart, the last two of which he also directed. Television credits include Rescue Me, Law & Order SVU, and pilots for F/X, Amazon, The History Channel, FTVS and HBO. Upcoming films include O.G., starring Jeffrey Wright.


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