NE Theatre presents The Laramie Project opening March 19

A college student is savagely attacked and left tied to a fence on a lonely western prairie – a killing that would thrust a quiet western town into the national spotlight.

Written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, The Laramie Project staged by the Northeast State Community College Theatre Department this month tells the story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard outside Laramie, Wyoming, and how local residents dealt with a hate crime happening in their town.

Shepard, a 21-year-old gay student registered at the University of Wyoming, was tied to a cattle fence, beaten severely, robbed, and left to die on a bitterly cold night. Eighteen hours later, he was discovered by a cyclist, who first thought the figure attached to the fence was a scarecrow. Shepard was rushed to a local hospital where he died several days later from his injuries. Two local men were charged and convicted of the crime.The Laramie Project 2015

Based on more than 200 interviews conducted over 18 months, the play weaves together the events leading up to Shepard’s murder, the aftermath and trial of the killers, and reactions from the people of Laramie. The cast takes on multiple character roles of those interviewed to reveal the underpinnings of homosexuality, religion, class, education, non-traditional lifestyles, and what the crime meant in the cultural landscape of America.

The Laramie Project is a deeply moving theatrical experience that explores both the savage darkness and extraordinary compassion of humanity. The production contains mature subject matter that may not be suitable for all audiences. The play is being presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.

Performances are scheduled March 19-21 & March 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. and March 22 and 29 at 2:00 p.m. All performances are being staged in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theatre on the College’s Blountville campus, 2425 Highway 75, next to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

Tickets at the door are $10 general admission. Admission is free to Northeast State students with valid student identification.

For more information or how to buy tickets reservations, please visit www.northeaststate.edu/theatre, e-mail tcbrooks@northeaststate.edu, or call the box office at 423.354.5169.

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