The play was written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project shortly after the brutal beating and death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, WY, on October 7, 1998. Shepard was a gay college student who was kidnapped from a bar, robbed, beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. Kaufman and company drew from the hundreds of interviews they conducted with inhabitants of the town, company members’ own journal entries, and published news reports of Shepard’s assault and subsequent death to write the play. It is divided into three acts, and eight actors portray more than 60 characters in a series of short scenes.
After Shepard’s death, his parents established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to honor his life and aspirations. This year, the Foundation is promoting a nationwide Heart Challenge to honor the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death and the founding of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The goal of the Challenge is to help spread love, erase hate, and remind other LGBTQ+ people that they have allies by challenging people to print out the campaign’s heart icon, write a message, and place it on a fence.
At the October 6 performance of The Laramie Project, there will be #MSF20 Heart Challenge cutouts available for personal messages. Patrons and the public are invited to participate by signing the back of a heart cutout with words of encouragement to show their support for the people of our LGBTQ+ community. To download the form and print out additional #MF20 Heart Challenge cutouts ahead of the performance, click on this link: MSF20-Heart-Challenge.
For additional information about this and other performances in the College of Performing Arts, visit Chapman.edu/events-copa, or call the box office at (714) 997-6624.