Stage Shows

Celebrity Cast – Including Mayor Sanders – To Read ‘Laramie Project’ Epilogue, Oct. 12

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Laramie

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders joins the cast of the upcoming reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, Oct. 12, a one-night only event at the La Jolla Playhouse. The Playhouse will join with more than 100 theatres across the country in presenting a reading of this compelling and groundbreaking epilogue to the award-winning original work.

“We are honored that Mayor Sanders will be joining us in presenting this vitally important project. Ten years later, the power of Matthew Shepard’s story still resonates throughout our nation, and the Mayor’s participation demonstrates his and San Diego’s commitment to ending violence and prejudice in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley.

sandersA month after the murder of Matthew Shepard – an alleged hate crime that riveted the country a decade ago – 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, performed at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2001 and later made into a film for HBO. The piece has been seen by more than 50 million people around the country.

The epilogue focuses on the long-term effects 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. Original Laramie Project creators Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber have contributed to the epilogue.

“The murder of Matthew Shepard and its impact on the Laramie community is a truly powerful story, as Playhouse audiences experienced when we became one of the first regional theatres to present The Laramie Project in 2001,” said Ashley. “That play went on to be one of the most produced plays in America for two years running. Now ten years later, our hope is that the epilogue deepens the exploration of Matthew’s death, and how it continues to reverberate. We are very pleased to bring this important American story to a new generation of theatregoers.”

The play also includes new interviews with Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, and Mathew’s murderer, Aaron McKinney, who’s serving two consecutive life sentences. The writers also conducted many follow-up interviews with Laramie residents from the original piece, including, Romaine Patterson, Reggie Fluty, Jedediah Shultz, Father Roger Schmidt, Jonas Slonaker, Beth Loffreda and others.

“The Tectonic Theater Project set out to find out how Laramie had changed in the ten years since the murder of Matthew Shepard. When we arrived, we were forced to confront the question, ‘How do you measure change in a community?’ One of the things we found when we got there, which greatly surprised us, was people in Laramie saying this was not a hate crime,” said Moises Kaufman, Artistic Director of Tectonic Theater Project.

“We found the people of Laramie still fighting to own their own history, their own identity, their own story, and part of that is shaped by how they understand what happened that night to Matthew,” continued Leigh Fondakowski.

“Creating the epilogue also gave us the opportunity to talk to Aaron McKinney about his crime, what his thinking is about it now, and what his experience has been in prison over the past decade,,” said Greg Pierotti, the company member who interviewed Aaron. “We were also able to speak with Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, whose striking transformation from privately grieving mother to civil rights activist has captured the nation’s attention,” concluded Andy Paris.

La Jolla Playhouse will host the only San Diego reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later on Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. in the Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Forum. The reading is helmed by acclaimed director Darko Tresnjak. In addition to the Mayor, the cast includes Doug Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winner and adapter/director of the Playhouse’s upcoming production of Creditors, San Diego Rep Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse, local theater writer and former Union-Tribune theater critic Anne Marie Welsh, acclaimed actors Mare Winningham, Robert Foxworth, Amanda Naughton, James Newcomb, Stark Sands, T. Ryder Smith, James Sutorius, among many others.

Tickets for The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later are $15. Proceeds from the Playhouse reading will benefit the Hillcrest Youth Center, a program operated under the auspices of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

“Looking back on the tragedy of Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder a decade later, it becomes clear that, although we have made progress, we still have a long way to go,” said Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center. “Until the day arrives when no student has to hide who they are out of fear of being bullied and no youth has to face the prospect of being abused because they’re LGBT, ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our LGBT young people will, and should, continue to be a top priority for all of those who care about youth safety.”

The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later
Presented by the La Jolla Playhouse
Oct. 12, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15

Mandell Weiss Forum , 2910 La Jolla Village Drive
(Located on the UCSD Campus via the Revelle Entrance)
Box Office: (858) 550-1010
Online: www.lajollaplayhouse.org

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