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2013-02-28 / Scene

Laramie Project at the PIX

Stirring, emotional story based on real-life events
BY JACOB HUNSANGER
810-452-2609 • jhunsanger@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — On October 7, 1998, a 21-year-old college freshman in Laramie, Wyoming was tortured and murdered on the side of a desolate road. His name was Matthew Shepard.

The tragic death of Matthew Shepard brought national attention to the issue of hate crimes because Shepard was gay, and it was alleged that his attackers pretended to also be gay in order to lure him into a truck and eventually rob and beat him.

This weekend, the PIX Theatre will present a show titled The Laramie Project based on the life and death of Matthew Shepard, and the events that followed. Performances will take place on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and a matinee performance will take place Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

The script itself is based on more than 200 interviews with people involved in the incident at the time and residents of Laramie, Wyoming. However, the cast is comprised of only eight people, all local actors, who perform a number of roles through the show.

“We get to see how this terrible crime effected Mathews friends and family and well as the townspeople of Laramie, we even hear from the friends and family of the killers as well as the killers themselves,” said Craig Martin, executive director at the PIX Theatre. “As with the people in any town, including Lapeer, the town is made up of many different viewpoints and this play looks at them all.”

Martin added that the play is “very raw in parts” and does contain adult language. The PIX Theatre decided to perform the script, Martin said, because of what has been going on in Lapeer with the bullying issue. “If you think about it, this is the ultimate bullying story. It is about violence being committed for no other reason that a person’s sexual orientation,” Martin said.

“I don’t expect this show to change people and their views, I am only asking that you come and see the show to see how violence effects people,” Martin said of the show. “How one act of violence can affect a person, a town, a state, a country?”

The cast of the show commented, “It’s about equality and having a right to live your life as you wish without living in fear.”

Martin added, “It is important for people to come and see this play, so they can see what comes of indifference and hate. The great line about this show is ‘those who need to see this show, probably won’t.’”

The two young men who beat and murdered Matthew Shepard were also from Laramie and a line in the play from a resident of Laramie says, “You don’t want to think that we raise kids like that here, but this shows you that we do raise kids like that here.”

“We would like to think this show is a positive step in the right direction,” Martin said. “We don’t want to have to have a resident of Lapeer say that too.”

The Laramie Project will be performed Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets purchased in advance cost $10 for adults or $8 for students and seniors. At the door tickets cost $14 for adults or $12 for students and seniors.

For more information or tickets, call the PIX Box Office at 810-664-4824 or go online to www.pixlapeer.org/thelaramieproject.

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