The Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton, FL, will be one of the first regional theatres to stage Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project's The Laramie Project, Dec. 31, 2000-Feb. 11, 2001.
Caldwell artistic director Michael Hall will direct the ensemble piece about an acting company interviewing Wyoming locals who were witness to — or caught up in the emotion of — the 1998 murder of gay Laramie college student Matthew Shepard.
The Caldwell troupe includes Pat Nesbit, Jacqueline Knapp, Mark Rizzo, Michael Warga, Robert Stockle, Kim Cozort, Laurie Gamache and Jason Field playing various characters — preachers, cops, mothers, friends of Shepard's, bigots, and members of the Tectonic company.
Designers are Tim Bennett (scenic), Thomas Salzman (lighting), Steve Shapiro (sound) and Penny Koleos Williams (costumes).
The production replaces the previously announced Man With a Load of Mischief. Previews are Dec. 31-Jan. 4, with an opening of Jan. 5. Tickets range $26-$30. Caldwell Theatre Company is at 7873 N. Federal Highway, in the Levitz Plaza, in Boca Raton. Call (561) 241-7432 for information.
The Laramie Project was one of the best-reviewed new American plays of the year when it ran May 18-Sept. 2, 2000, at the Union Square Theatre in Manhattan. The good notices came in prior to New York, too, when the piece played a kind of resident tryout (the show's world premiere) at Denver Center Theatre Company in February 2000.
The play, told in a bare-bones storytelling fashion, is a sort of theatrical docudrama about public response to the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard, although Kaufman said he dislikes the term "docudrama" and cringes at the suggestion that the piece is theatrical "journalism." In the months following the murder, Kaufman and members of his Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Wyoming, interviewed citizens and co-wrote the script. On stage in the original production, in Colorado and New York, actors played themselves, their colleagues and the people of Laramie and environs. The audience is directly addressed in the piece.
An HBO film version is in the works.
Regional theatres and universities are expected to be champing at the bit for rights to stage The Laramie Project, which has a provocative, human subject, a minimal set and eight choice ensemble roles — the sort of serious, intimate work nonprofits thrive on.
For Playbill On-Line's Brief Encounter interview with Moises Kaufman, artistic director of Tectonic Theater Project, click here.
— By Kenneth Jones