“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” –Dylan Thomas
October 6th, 1998 Matthew Shepard, 21, was tortured and left for dead in Laramie Wyoming. Six days later, October 12th, he was declared dead. The months to follow put Laramie under a microscope.
A theater troupe came into town, conducting hundreds of interviews accumulating 400 hours of recordings. From intimate friends of the victim and the accused, the doctor that treated Matthew, the cop that was first to the scene, to the bartender, the limousine driver. With that, they created The Laramie Project. A docudrama with a non-chronological narrative
And for the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Lakewood Barnstormers is performing it. “My goal is to help the audience realize that hate crimes can happen anywhere. We in Lakewood, much like the people in Laramie, Wyoming, pride ourselves on contributing to a welcoming and accepting atmosphere,” Barnstormer director and adviser, Domenic Farinelli, relays.
The concept of the play is to be “self-aware” with a narrow stage that is to be an alley setting and to have minimal costumes, the goal to portray the actors as those of a troupe (mimicking the original cast of those who conducted these interviews and wrote this play).
“It is important to me that audiences remember what happened to Matthew Shepard, and my hope is that this production will make everyone a little bit more mindful of how they react towards and treat others,” Farinelli explains on the topic of the concept for the play.
Barnstormers is known for making a certain scope. Last year’s Macbeth had the concept of symbolism of pieces on a chessboard and to make the time period of the play ambiguous. But in the Laramie Project, Farinelli struggled in doing so as fearing of “taking away from the original message.”
Farinelli says he has high hopes for the production. With a cast of 30 students, it is the second largest cast Farinelli has ever directed. The show has just begun rehearsals and can be seen November 1st-3rd.