Theatre in Wales

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Homophobia, Prejudice and a Horrific Murder.     

RWCMD presents a harrowing and hugely important play: a monument to a dark day in recent history that should never be forgotten.

RWCMD and director Phil Clark present The Laramie Project, a harrowing and deeply moving play that brings a very sad day in recent history to the stage.

On 7 October 1998, Mathew Shepard, a 21-year old gay student from the University of Wyoming was found brutally beaten, lashed to a fence and left for dead outside the town of Laramie. He never regained consciousness and died five days later, the victim of a hate crime by two men his own age.

A month after the murder, writer Moises Kaufman, visited Laramie and interviewed over 200 people – Matthew’s family and friends, the family of the two men who would later be convicted of his murder, students, police officers, and church ministers – recording 400 hours of intimate stories.

Kaufman edited the interviews into a 90 minute play with 79 characters to tell the story of the murder that gripped America and troubled the nation’s conscience.

RWCMD acting students under the direction of Phil Clark, The Sherman Theatre’s Artistic Director will be the first to bring this play to a Cardiff stage. Phil Clark says “The production will be a challenge for the students to perform – over 70 characters of all ages and backgrounds. But the honesty and passion of young actors will bring the play to life and create a fantastic event; a great example of the political importance and power of theatre in our community.”

Phil Clark first came across the play in New York whilst working at the Tisch School of Performing Arts. “While I was there I auditioned over 300 students. Every day several of the audition speeches came from a play I had never heard of, The Laramie Project. I found a copy and, sitting in a bar in New York, was totally gripped and in tears.
It’s an extremely powerful and important play. Its documentary style is an exciting development in new theatre writing, seen in the UK in plays about the killing of James Bulger and the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.
But the thing that really excited me was how the students, the young people of America, had taken ownership of the play and wanted to ask questions about prejudice and where America is now.”

Adding to the uniqueness of this production Musical Director, Paula Gardiner, a well respected figure on the Welsh jazz scene and Jazz Coordinator at RWCMD, has introduced the element of live music, with a five-piece Jazz band on stage. The RWCMD jazz musicians have used the themes of the play as inspiration to improvise and create accompaniment music.

The Laramie Project
By Moisés Kaufman

Directed by Phil Clark

Matthew Shepard's brutal murder focused national attention as no incident had before on homophobia and related hate crimes.

The two killers are young men. This is a town struggling to understand how it could have raised such hateful, bigoted, violent children. Why did the perpetrators do it? Who was at fault? Why did it happen in Laramie? There is no single answer.

The Laramie Project is an examination of American values in our current age and their relationship to religion, class, economics, education and attitudes to alternative lifestyles.

Venue 2
Sherman Theatre
Senghennydd Road, Cardiff

Tuesday 1st February – Saturday 5th February 2005, 8pm
Matinee – Thursday 3rd February 2005 @ 2.30pm

£7, £5 conc
Box Office/Swyddfa Docynnau 029 2064 6900
web site

Friday, January 28, 2005back

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