‘The Laramie Project’
Staged by P.T.D. Productions at Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron, Ypsilanti. Sept. 21-23 & 28-30 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. $15. For information: (734) 483-7345 or http://www.ptdproductions.com
YSPILANTI – In 1998, the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard stunned not only the community of Laramie, Wyoming, but the entire world. It was a heinous crime that continues to resonate today, as evidenced by the popularity of “The Laramie Project,” a fascinating theater piece created by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project that examines the impact of Shepard’s murder on the citizens of Laramie.
Their heartfelt story will be told beginning Sept. 21 at Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, thanks to P.T.D. Productions, a local, 12-year-old community theater troupe.
For Co-Director Phil Smith, a senior at Canton High School in Canton, it’s the message of “The Laramie Project” that caused him convince the theater company to add the production to its 2006 season. “Being a young gay person, it affects me every day. This shows what discrimination can do.”
The powerful drama was based on more than 200 interviews conducted by Kaufman and his co-creators. The result is a production that features nearly five dozen characters played by only eight actors.
Smith’s vision of the show, however, is different from other recent productions. The setting is no longer somber and minimalist, he noted, and his actors have given a lot of life and personality to their characters. “It’s a sad show, but it’s also inspirational. There’s a message of hope behind it. It’s an important show.”