Books

The Laramie Project
A Play by Moises Kaufman and
The Members of Tectonic Theater Project
Vintage/$11

In October of 1998, gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was tortured and murdered on an otherwise picturesque and tranquil stretch of highway outside of Laramie, Wyo. A month later, Moises Kaufman and nine members of New York City's Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie to interview dozens of locals and students struggling in the aftermath, beginning what would become a two-year endeavor. What emerged was The Laramie Project, a play in the town's own words and voices, reflecting each individual's shock and struggle with the murder, the ensuing media coverage, and the difficult task of putting their lives back together.

At turns sad, uplifting and outrageous, the play is also deeply moving and brutally honest, allowing readers intimate conversations with friends, family and strangers, including Matthew's father, the student who found the young man's body, local clergymen and the men responsible for Matthew's death. As you drift through the play's chronological sequence of events, it's obvious that "to be gay in cow country" is not an easy choice, and many of the locals don't make it any easier: "Had this been a heterosexual these two boys decided to take out and rob, this never would have made the national news." But the hopeful (and somewhat surprising) thing about The Laramie Project is the number of sensitive and caring people in Laramie who rallied 'round Matthew as he fought for his life, and those who found the courage to allow this tragedy to change their own.

If you missed Stageworks' local production of The Laramie Project (which earned a five-planet review by WP Performance Critic Mark Leib) don't wait for another theater company to repeat it. Buy the book. If you've had enough sadness and tragedy as of late, at least heed the words of Matthew's mother: "Go home, give your kids a hug, and don't let a day go by without telling them that you love them."

—Kelli K

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