“The Laramie Project” @ Akron Civic Recalls a Tragic, Transformative Event

Thu 7/11-Sat 7/13 @ 8PM

The story of the cruel murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, who lingered for six days before dying of head injuries, galvanized not just the immediate community but people across the country, spurring a spate of hate crime legislation, including the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act signed into law by President Obama in late 2009. It also gave birth to the idea of surrounding anti-gay protestors with counter-protesting “angels” whose large wings shielded homophobes, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which picketed Shepard’s funeral, depriving them of their much-desired TV coverage.

Shepard’s murder provided fuel for songs, novels, films and most notably the play The Laramie Project, created in 2000 by New York’s Tectonic Theatre Project, led by founder Moisés Kaufman, using a method called devised theater, in which a work is collectively created by an ensemble. The Laramie Project was based on news reports and more than 200 interviews the company personally did with people in Laramie. They’ve performed it across the country and, yes, they’ve been picketed by Westboro Baptist Church.

Now Akron-based company the Millennial Theatre Project is bring the Tectonic Theater Project to Akron’s Civic Theatre for three nights to perform The Laramie Project. It’s a cabaret performance with a audience seated onstage with the performers, which should make for an intense experience. Westboro Baptist Church is unlikely to make the trip to Akron.

Tickets are $15.

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