Written by Danielle Couture
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Theatre Program and Drama Society will present "The Laramie Project," written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, in the Harry Hope Theatre in Shafer Hall. The play, directed by senior theatre major Kelsey Guggenheim, will run from April 24-27 at 7:30 p.m., with a Friday showing at 11 a.m. and a Sunday showing at 4 p.m.
The play follows the true story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence in the middle of a prairie outside Laramie, WY in 1998 and left to die. He was a victim of this brutal murder just because he was gay.
Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, and others were citizens of Laramie. Kaufman and Tectonic Theater members constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences.
Guggenheim was given the opportunity to direct this full-length stage production through Pathways to Leadership. The program for students interested in directing includes a series of directing classes, stage management and assistant directing duties, and opportunities to direct staged readings, children's theatre, one-act plays, and on occasion, for the student with special skills, the opportunity to direct a full-length, fully-staged production as part of the Harry Hope Theatre season of shows.
Guggenheim has acted in nine Eastern productions including "The Skin of our Teeth," "The Birds" and The Gilded Age." She was stage manager for "Dancing at Lughnasa" and assistant stage manager for "Biloxi Blues." She directed "Sacrifices for the Sake of Art" as part of the Phoenix New Play Series, and was the assistant director of "Once on this Island." She was chosen as a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Candidate for her work in "The Skin of Our Teeth" and is also the president of Drama Society.
The public is invited. Admission is $5 for students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff, alumni and senior citizens; and $12 for the general public.
For more information on "The Laramie Project," call the University Box Office at (860) 465-5123 or email Ellen Brodie at firstname.lastname@example.org.