The date of the first performance of The Laramie Project: Ten Years On - 12 October 2009 – is exactly 11 years after the death of the victim, Matthew Shepard, in Wyoming. In October 1998, Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student at the University of Wyoming, was found lashed to a fence in the hills outside the town of Laramie. He had been pistol-whipped, beaten and left barely breathing. Never regaining consciousness, Shepard died five days later.
Over the course of two years, playwright Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project interviewed 200 Laramie townspeople and boiled down 400 hours of transcripts into the play involving 79 characters. Since its premiere in 2000, The Laramie Project has become one of the most performed plays in the US.
For the Epilogue, Kaufman and co-writers Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierott, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber returned to Laramie to explore the long-term effects of the crime and how the town has changed since Shepard’s death. The piece features a new interview with Shepard’s mother, as well as with the murderer, Aaron McKinney, who is now serving dual life sentences.
Manchester-based Hope Theatre Company presents the UK premiere at The Lowry. Their involvement came about by chance: on a honeymoon road trip across the States, director Adam Zane and his partner Dick met Tectonic’s Andy Paris in a coffee shop in Laramie.
At the same time as the Epilogue is presented in Manchester, a separate production of the original Laramie Project play will be mounted in London, running at The Space in east London from 11 to 13 October, and then returning from 18 to 22 November 2009. The Wild Oats production is directed by Joseph C Walsh.