Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman

This week I finished reading The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and all I can say is wow. This play left me so stunned and enthralled that the thought of starting a new book completely fell away; I just can’t leave this story yet! I’m the type of person that if I fall in love with a story or a piece of history, I have to spend the next six hours of my life googling it and getting every last drop of information I can about it. And so here I am, sitting at my computer, researching the death of Matthew Shepard.

If you don’t know what this play is about let me fill you in a bit. Led by Moises Kaufman, members of Tetonic Theater Company went to the town of Laramie, Wyoming after the brutal murder of a young gay man. There, they conducted interviews with people in the town. These interviews range from friends of the accused, the police officer called to the scene of the murder, to students at the local University. Through these accounts, Matthew Shepard’s murder is told from voices we wouldn’t typically hear from. By doing this, the reader sees so many different opinions on the attack and its aftermath.

Now, whether or not you are pro gay rights or anti gay rights, this is definitely a book I would recommend to you. During my entire time reading this book, I never felt preached at or anything of the sort. The members of the Tectonic Theater Project really took the words of Father Roger Schmit to heart and “do your best to say it correct.” They didn’t alter what the people of this town said at all so you as a reader are exposed to literally every viewpoint possible. You hear from locals who are active in the gay community, locals who don’t support that lifestyle, various religious leaders with different thoughts, and people who just saw the whole terrible incident happen. The writers of the play are holding back no information and no opinion is too harsh from this play. Even with the spirit of togetherness that the gay community felt after the murder, there was of course backlash, and we are lucky enough to see both sides.

Throughout the play, a noticeable unique quality about the script is the lack of scenes. Instead of an act being filled with scenes, the acts are filled with moments and they are listed as such. In my theater classes lately, my teacher has stressed the use of moments and their importance in our daily lives. A big theme in this play is that of destiny and reasons why things happen. The character Aaron Kreifels spends the majority of the play questioning why he was meant to find Matthew on the fence while he was out riding his bike. Without these specific moments in our lives, we wouldn’t be who we are. Personally, one of my favorite moments is Act III Moment: Dennis Shepard’s Statement. The thoughts from Matt’s father literally rip at my heart because of how he goes about speaking to the murderer of his son with such grace and elegance. The entire play is filled with this sort of delicacy and beauty while still managing to get a point across about this hideous crime.

While reading this, I never felt as if I was being bombarded by drama or dramatic scenes. They playwright took a lot of care to not overwhelm the reader with too much intensity. Because of that, it was easier to keep my attention on the book because I never felt like what I was reading was too much to handle. Because the script is truly just real people talking, it felt as if I was sitting there talking with them, not seeing a play being put on in my head.

Overall, my attention and my heart were captured by this play. It was a very fast and easy read because I couldn’t manage to put it down. Anyone studying theater should read this play because of the unique approach it takes to staging and characterization. Anyone who enjoys watching the news or enjoys thinking outside of the box should read this play because of the different views you are allowed to see. I recommend this book to one and all!

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all!

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