Direct from an award-winning run at Washington D.C.’s Capital Fringe Festival, The Wandering Theatre Company brings its bold new staging of contemporary classic The Laramie Project to New York City’s Access Theatre.
The story of Matthew Shepard broke headlines in 1998. A gay college student, he was kidnapped and beaten by two men, tied to a fence, and left to die in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. The play is based on more than 200 interviews with Laramie residents conducted during the year immediately following the crime by playwright Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project.
Nearly 20 years later, the play is more relevant than ever. The Wandering Theatre Company’s production reflects on Shepard’s murder, and “more broadly, our present political climate, which may allow people of any racial, gender, ethnic, or sexual orientation minority to feel marginalized,” says Erica Sloan of Washingtonian. Ravelle Brickman wrote in DC Metro Theater Arts, “The Laramie Project is a work that deserves to be seen, again and again. It is a sobering reminder of the hatred and fear that still divides our country.”
A movement-based ensemble, The Wandering Theatre Company explores the play using the Viewpoints method, providing the audience with beautiful dance-like movement and striking tableaus. The minimal stage becomes the town with the infamous fence looming over all. Matthew Shepard, usually unseen, silently throughout this innovative production. Nine other actors embrace 60 roles and let us touch the pulse of small-town America in the 1990s.
Director Natalie Villamonte Zito says, “I chose to do ‘The Laramie Project’ three days after the presidential election; it was my response. We were starting to see hate crimes pop up again all over, toward people of Muslim faith, toward African Americans, toward gay people, so this was just an extremely important story for us to tell again now.”
The Wandering Theatre Company, a movement-based ensemble using The Viewpoint Technique, is dedicated to creating new American plays and reinventing established plays in order to spotlight issues affecting American culture and people.