HBO Films' "The Laramie Project," Moisés Kaufman's telepic version of the Off-Broadway play he wrote with his Tectonic Theater Project colleagues, will open the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, Jan. 10, Variety reported.
The play tells of the emotional aftermath of the fall 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard, and focuses on Kaufman's theatre company members, who traveled to Wyoming with the thought of creating some kind of theatre piece about the subject. The actors took a cultural pulse of the community and constructed a play whose ideas of hate, bigotry, love, forgiveness and justice simmer under the surface of the work. The stage version was told presentationally, almost documentary-like, though director Kaufman dismisses the idea that the work is a kind of journalism. Some likened the play to a kind of post-modern Our Town on national and cultural themes.
In the film version, also written and directed by Kaufman, movie stars — Christina Ricci, Laura Linney, Jeremy Davies, Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garofalo and Camryn Manheim — play the real-life community members and observers who were interviewed by the Tectonic members. Some of the Tectonic folk who created the stage show play themselves in the film. The TV pic will appear on HBO in March.
Matthew Shepard is not a character in the film, and was not seen on stage Off-Broadway, or in the work's 2000 world premiere by the Denver Center Theatre Company. An early reading of the play was held as part of the Sundance Festival's theatrical arm.
The New York run at the Union Square Theatre, May September 2000, was shorter than expected, but in a little more than a year, the play has become a regional theatre favorite. To view Playbill On-Line's May 2000 Brief Encounter interview with Moises Kaufman, click here.
— By Kenneth Jones