The Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance presents an expanded eight performance run of “The Laramie Project” by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project Oct. 2–5 and 7–9. The department offers 7 p.m. performances from Oct. 2–5 and 8–9 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Oct. 7. The production will be held in the Valborg Theatre on the university campus, and tickets are $10 for students, $15 for faculty and staff and $17 for adults.
After college student Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked by two men and left to die on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie to collect reactions to the hate crime. The theatre company gathered more than 400 hours worth of interviews and condensed them into a two-hour play. The script focuses not on the death of Shepard, but rather the impact of the hate crime on the Laramie community.
“Our production asks, ‘Where are we now, two decades later?’” said theatre professor Teresa Lee, director of the play, while noting that Appalachian’s production takes place during the exact 20th anniversary of the actual hate crime. Her cast features ten student actors portraying 67 roles as they examine the town of Laramie in the wake of the tragedy. Lee shares that “The Laramie Project” is not a traditional play, but rather, “a collection of moments and points of view. Our emphasis is on the storytelling.” She notes that the set will be minimal, relying heavily on props and costume pieces as actors switch rapidly between interviews with the characters from Laramie and narration.
“The Laramie Project” is the common reading selection for Appalachian first-year seminars during the 2018-19 school year. More than 4,500 copies of the script were ordered in a special edition printed exclusively for the university. Judy Shepard, mother of the victim and co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, was the keynote speaker at the university’s fall convocation, amplifying the “No Hate, App State” slogan while talking about the loss of her son. Playwright Moisés Kaufman spoke with members of the cast and production team on Sept. 17 to inform their rehearsal process, and will be visiting campus in April 2018 as part of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series.
Lee noted the contributions of Dr. Derek Davidson, assistant professor of theatre arts and dramaturg for the production, and Adrian Rieder, adjunct theatre faculty member who trained with Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project when he was a professional actor in New York City. Davidson will be leading four post-show panel discussions of the play after performances on Oct. 3, 5 and 8, and after the matinee performance on Oct. 7.
Although there is no performance on Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. there will be a candlelight vigil remembering Matthew Shepard and all victims of hate. The event, organized by Appalachian’s Henderson Springs LGBT Center, will be held in the Parkway Ballroom of Plemmons Student Union.
Tickets for the play are available in person at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., by phone at 800-841-ARTS (2787), or 828-262-4046 and online at theatreanddance.appstate.edu.
The Valborg Theatre is located on campus at the north side of Chapell Wilson Hall on Howard Street. The theatre entrance faces the back of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts on King Street. Parking on campus in staff/faculty spots will be available after 5 p.m., and the College Street parking deck near Belk Library and Information Commons will be available after 5:30 p.m.
About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University is housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. The mission of the department is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also values the opportunity to offer coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Vital to the support of this mission is a dynamic co-curricular production program that provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.