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Keene State Theatre Presents Laramie Project

KEENE, N.H. 2/7/02 - Keene State Theatre will present a staged reading of “The Laramie Project,” a recounting of townspeople’s reactions to the murder of a gay college student.

The drama, judged one of 1999’s ten best plays and lauded as a contemporary “Our Town,” will be presented at 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, March 5-9, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 9, in the Wright Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond at Keene State College. Advance ticket reservations are suggested due to limited seating in the Wright Theatre. Tickets are $7 for the general public, $5 for KSC students, senior citizens, and youth 17 and under. For tickets, call the box office at 603-358-2168.

“The Laramie Project” was written by off-Broadway director Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project. It is based on 200 hours of interviews with residents of that small Wyoming prairie town one month after Matthew Shepard’s 1998 murder focused national attention on homophobic hate crimes. Shepard was lured from a bar, kidnapped, tied to a fence, and beaten with the butt of a gun. He was left unconscious in freezing weather and was found 18 hours later by a passing bicyclist. Two local men are serving life terms in prison for Shepard’s murder.

Kaufman’s film adaptation of the “The Laramie Project” opened the Sundance Film Festival in January and is tentatively set to air on HBO March 23.

Vaughn West, director of the Keene State Theatre production, says the play is an excellent example of theatre as social commentary because it examines prejudice in American society.

“The play challenges audiences to question their own views toward anyone who is different,” explains West, a theatre faculty member at Keene State. He also teaches at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge and Mt. Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Mass.

The play also presents a challenge to the student actors as each has to play multiple roles, ranging from four to eight different characters to create a town full of people.

“It’s an actor-driven production, which makes a very good work to use as a staged reading,” says West. It will be performed on a bare stage with actors reading from scripts.

Jared M. Ball of West Lebanon plays eight different roles including a police sergeant, a priest, a doctor, and a Mormon teacher. Scott T. McCann of Glen Rock, N.J., John Freyer of South Salem, N.Y., Dan Haggerty of Penacook, Paige Lussier of Keene, and Sari Gagnon of Plainville, Conn., each are responsible for seven separate characters. Caroline Price of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, has four female roles.

Kate Greycare of Braintree, Mass., and Kyla D. Longe of Reno, Nev., face the ultimate challenge of learning 13 characters, including the narrator. They will take the stage during alternate performances.

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435