The Theatre Arts Department of the University of Redlands is presenting a powerful play called The Laramie Project at the Frederick Loewe Theatre, opening with one show tonight, on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m., two shows on Saturday the 17 at 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. and one show on Sunday the 18 at 2 p.m. The play is directed by senior Noah Sylvester as part of his capstone project.


The play itself is about the hate crime that killed Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. Sheppard was a student at the University of Wyoming when he was attacked for being a gay man. The play was created after Moises Kaufman and other members of the Tectonic Theatre Project went to Laramie and conducted more than 200 interviews which were later formed into the play.


Students of Art Svenson’s Constitutional Law class might recognize the incident’s significance, as it led to the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which changed the guidelines under which hate crimes can be prosecuted. Before this act, people would have to have been involved in a federal activity, such as voting, to fall under the jurisdiction of hate crime protection, but now they’re protected regardless of activity.


By seeing this story performed, people aren’t just supporting artists at the university, but they’re a part of the experience created by Moises Kaufman & the Members of the Tectonic Theater Project, and contribute to keeping the story alive and educate the public in this time where hate crimes have increased in frequency and in violence.


Tickets may be purchased online or at the door.