No Boundaries Youth Theater will open its 2018-19 season this month with The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theater Project.
The play tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in October 1998. The script was developed and written by the Tectonic Theater Project, a New York theater company whose members conducted interviews with more than 200 people of Laramie. The play is a collage of scenes and monologues that explore the aftermath of the attack and the reactions of the Laramie community. It does contain some extreme profanity and graphic descriptions of violence. Because of the subject matter and language, some people have questioned whether a children’s theater should be producing the play.
Children’s theater often gets a bad rap—it’s sometimes looked at as lightweight and frothy entertainment for ungrown minds. But if you’ve been following NBYT for a while, you have may noticed that we like to challenge that stereotype.
We’ve enthusiastically done some of the expected fairy tales and happy musicals, but we’ve also done original musicals and plays, Shakespeare, dramas, and some obscure titles with local historical and educational connections. This out-of-the-box producing got NBYT recognized as the state’s best children’s theater by Connecticut Magazine in 2017. The Laramie Project is the most serious drama we’ve done to date and the furthest from standard children’s theater, so it’s understandable that there have been some questions.
But, at age 21 Matthew Shepard was still very young when he was taken from a bar, driven to a remote field where he was severely beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. The young men who murdered Matthew were the same age. And the twelve actors in NBYT’s production are nearly that age themselves. We’ve watched them in rehearsals and we know that they feel the responsibility of telling this story meaningfully and correctly. They’ve shown understanding and empathy far beyond their years, and their talents on stage are wonderfully showcased in this piece as well. It’s not only appropriate for a youth theater to tell this story; it adds meaning and depth and hope to the story.
It’s twenty years this month that Matthew Shepard was murdered. If you’ve never seen this play before, or if you want to see it told by young actors, we invite you especially to come to our production.
At its heart, The Laramie Project is about whether we let fear, hatred, and anger define us as a community. It’s a story that needs to be told now more than ever.
The Laramie Project will be performed at Raymond Hill School at the Klingberg Center, located at 370 Linwood Street Street in New Britain. The Community Chest of New Britain and Berlin is sponsor of the production.
Performances are Friday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, October 21 at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $13 for adults and $11 for children, students, and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online through the link above.