‘The Laramie Project’ Spotlights Sexuality and Society

Photo Credit/Kim Slezak Marti Goodfellow practices her acting for the big show.

By Madison Petro

Staff Writer

When Nick Kwietniak proposed to direct “The Laramie Project” for Stage II, ESU’s theatre club, he did not expect it to have as much relevance as it does today.

Last semester, while reading prospective plays to direct, he knew “The Laramie Project” would hit home. At the time, he did not realize how much more relevant the play, opening tonight, would become.

“The central theme of this production is how hatred and acts of violence affect all social institutions of our lives,” said Kwietniak, senior acting and directing major, during a technical rehearsal this past weekend. “This specific story showcases LGBTQ hatred and applies really well to what we’re facing right now, especially in light of recent events with our government.”

“The Laramie Project” documents the aftermath of Matthew Shepherd’s murder in the small town of Laramie, Wyoming. Shepherd was an openly gay college student beaten to death for his sexuality.

Kwietniak voiced concern about where our country is heading in terms of hate crimes, using the example of what may happen if President Donald Trump’s Vice President were to take the reins.

The play is written documentary-style by Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project. Snippets from real interviews with Laramie residents interweave throughout the play.

Each resident, connected to Shepherd’s life in some way, relays their connection through the dialogue.

Despite the heavy events documented in the play, comedic moments and dynamic characters occasionally lighten the mood, if only for a few seconds. But the overall message still stands strong.

“Take a long hard look at what’s going on in the world,” Kwietniak said. “I hope this rips open the heart of acts of violence so we don’t become numb to them. So we remember what we can do to support and love one another.”

“The Laramie Project” show times are Nov. 16 to 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Dale Snow Theatre at Fine Arts.

This production is recommended for mature high school students and older. Tickets cost $5 for students with ID; $7 for faculty, staff and senior citizens with ID and $10 for general admission.

Advanced ticket purchase is highly recommended due to limited seating. Tickets are available at esu.edu/theatretickets or at the box office one-hour before show time.

For additional information, email esuarts@esu.edu or call 570-422-3483, ext. 4.

Email Madison at: