On the Road With Laramie
BY Advocate Contributors
August 10 2010 6:55 PM ET
After another year of work, we performed a reading of that play at Lincoln Center on the anniversary of Matt’s death. Glenn Close (pictured above), whose parents live in Big Piney, Wyoming, opened the evening and then introduced Judy Shepard. The whole of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall erupted in applause when Judy announced that The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act had finally passed in both the house and the senate. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law a few weeks later. Dennis and Judy Shepard, along with Wyoming law enforcement agents, Rob DeBree and Dave O’Malley and many others, fought an uphill battle for ten years to get this legislation passed. Judy then turned the evening over to the company.
The reading itself was another emotional experience. The original company of The Laramie Project had been reassembled, and it was the first time we had all been on a stage together for ten years. This event was another theatrical experiment conceived by both Moises Kaufman and Tectonic’s executive director Greg Reiner. While we read the play at Lincoln Center, 150 participating theaters across the country and around the world were reading it too.
The evening closed in a post show discussion with the Judy, the writers, and the company. The opening and closing were simulcast to all the participating theaters around the world. Participating companies and audiences world wide were able to join us at Alice Tully Hall via satellite for our conversation about Matt and Laramie.
Now another year later, we are preparing to go on tour with both plays. During August and September, I will be chronicling our company’s process as we ready the shows for the tour. This should be relatively hair raising, as we have only three original company members and have to stage two plays in five weeks! In October and November, I will be reporting how communities around the country are responding to the plays. Hopefully, that will be a little less hair raising, but you never know. People love to protest The Laramie Project. Fred Phelps, who protested outside Matthew’s funeral with signs that read “God Hates Fags,” has made a career out of offending communities who do The Laramie Project.
So that brings me back to Ellen and not being able to stop crying, she had come out right before Matt’s murder. She went on to say in that same interview, “it just hit me. This is what I was trying to stop. This is why I did what I did.”