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Our upcoming Theater by The Book play reading
Wednesday May 10 at 7:30 pm
THE LARAMIE PROJECT
by Moises Kaufman and the Members
of the Tectonic Theater Project
Directed by Sharon Winegar
Cathy Callas, Robin Callas, Kevin Deppe, Ariel Elliot,
Lois Ewing, Scott Ewing, John Gardiner, Alexis Gross,
Ben Hedenland, Jeffrey Mason, and David Painter
Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City
Free Admission -- $10 Suggested Donation
Doors open at 7:00 p.m; Reading begins at 7:30 p.m.
In October 1998, a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming was kidnapped, severely beaten, and left tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming. His bloody, bruised, and battered body was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in an area hospital. His name was Matthew Shepard, and his death became a national symbol of intolerance.
Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half, in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, while others were citizens of Laramie, and the breadth of the reactions to the crime is fascinating. Kaufman and Tectonic Theater members have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences in Laramie.
THE LARAMIE PROJECT is a breathtaking collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which we are capable.
Moisés Kaufman's Introduction to the published version of THE LARAMIE PROJECT
There are moments in history when a particular event brings the various ideologies and beliefs prevailing in a culture into sharp focus. At these junctures, the event becomes a lightning rod of sorts, attracting and distilling the essence of these philosophies and convictions. By paying careful attention in moments like these to people's words, one is able to hear the way these prevailing ideas affect not only individual lives, but also the culture at large.
The trials of Oscar Wilde were such an event. When I read the transcripts of the trials (while preparing to write Gross Indecency), I was struck by the clarity with which those documents illuminated an entire culture. In these pages, one can see not only a community dealing with the problem that Wilde presented, but in their own words, Victorian men and women telling us -- three generations later -- about the ideologies, idiosyncrasies, and philosophies that formed the pillars of that culture and ruled their lives.
The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard was another event of this kind. In its immediate aftermath, the nation launched into a dialogue that brought to the surface how we are thinking and talking about homosexuality, sexual politics, education, class, violence, privileges and rights, and the difference between tolerance and acceptance.
The idea for THE LARAMIE PROJECT originated in my desire to learn more about why Matthew Shepard was murdered, about what happened that night; about the town of Laramie. The idea of listening to the citizens talk really interested me. How is Laramie different from the rest of the country and how is it similar?
Shortly after the murder, I posed the question to my company, Tectonic Theater Project: What can we as theater artists do as a response to this incident? And, more concretely: Is theater a medium that can contribute to the national dialogue on current events?
These concerns fall squarely within Tectonic Theater Project's mission. Every project that we undertake as a company has two objectives: (1) to examine the subject matter at hand, and (2) to explore theatrical language and form. In an age when film and television are constantly redefining and refining their tools and devices, the theater has too often remained entrenched in the 19th-century traditions of realism and naturalism. In this sense, our interest was to continue to have a dialogue on both how the theater speaks and how it is created. Thus, I was very interested in this model: a theater company travels somewhere, talks to people and returns with what they saw and heard to create a play.
At the time I also happened to run across a Brecht essay I had not read in a long time, "The Street Scene." In it Brecht uses as a model the following situation: "an eyewitness demonstrating to a collection of people how a traffic accident took place." He goes on to build a theory about his "epic theater" based on this model. The essay gave me an idea about how to deal with this project, both in terms of its creation and its aesthetic vocabulary.
So in November 1998, four weeks after the murder of Matthew Shepard, nine members of Tectonic Theater Project and I traveled to Laramie, Wyoming to collect interviews that might become material for a play. Little did we know that we would devote two years of our lives to this project. We returned to Laramie many times over the course of the next yeare and a half and conducted more than two hundred interviews.
The play opened in Denver at the Denver Center Theater. Then it moved to New York City, to the Union Sqaure Theatre. And in November 2000 we took the play to Laramie.
The experience of working on THE LARAMIE PROJECT has been one of great sadness, great beauty and, perhaps most important, great revelation - about our nation, about our ideas, about ourselves.
The next production of our 9th Season
July 13 - August 5
Single tickets will be on sale soon!
July 13 - August 5
Single tickets will be on sale soon!
Thank you to Sierra Stages' 2017 Season Business Sponsors
And to the following individuals:
Kathy Chastain & Gary Shannon, Joan & Lance Goddard, Jerry Grant & Corinne Gelfan, Hindi Greenberg,
Joe Hammel and Jeanne Thies, Ken & Julie Hardin, Debby & Roger Henry, Joe Hevia & Darlene “Dee” Mariani, Aileen James, Jeffrey Leiter, Jeffrey & Susan Mason, Saundra and Vince Mutascio, David Painter & Sharon Winegar,
Keith & Shirley Porter, Kirsti & Bill Powell, Carole Schreier, Arlene & Jerry Waxman,
Bob & Carolyn Winters, Jeannie Wood, and all of our members and contributors.
Sierra Stages is all about community – our mission is to enrich the cultural life of Nevada County by providing high quality, affordable and accessible performances for everyone. Over the past eight years, we have presented 30 productions of plays and musicals utilizing local talent onstage and behind the scenes at our community’s leading performing arts venues, including the Nevada Theatre, Off Center Stage, and Miners Foundry Cultural Center. In addition, we have offered a series of over 24 informal play readings, collaborated with a number of local nonprofit organizations for fundraising events, and produced two musicals for local elementary schools: Stone Soup and The Quiltmaker's Gift.