Photos courtesy of MaryAnn Luedtke

Want to go?

What: “The Laramie Project,” presented by the Community Theatre of Greensboro

When: 7:30 p.m.Jan. 27-28, Feb. 1-4 and 2 p.m. Jan. 20 and Feb. 5

Where: Starr Theatre, Community Theatre of Greensboro, 520 S. Elm St., Greensboro

Tickets: $10-$30 at the box office, by phone at (336) 333-7469 or online at

Information: (336) 333-7469,

By Bruce Buchanan, Special to GoTriad

The country was shocked by the brutal 1998 murder of college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo. Shepard was beaten, tied to a fence and left to die, all because he was gay.

The Shepard murder led to increased public awareness about homophobia and violent crimes targeting LGBT people. It also led to “The Laramie Project.” Now, Community Theatre of Greensboro is bringing that play to the Triad.

“The Laramie Project” opens Friday. Although choice of the play may seem like a statement on the current political climate, given the implementation of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and the presidential election, CTG Executive Director Mitchel Sommers said CTG leaders had made plans to stage the play before either of those events.

However, Sommers said they do make the topics raised by “The Laramie Project” even more timely.

“I do like, when possible, for our shows to engage the community in social issues and offer the actors the opportunity to address certain issues,” he said, adding that many of the cast members have strong feelings on the issues of homophobia and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“It’s something that’s on everyone’s mind,” he said. “Everybody who auditioned really wanted to be in the show.”

“The Laramie Project” has a different narrative structure than a traditional play. Based on actual interviews conducted with Laramie residents after the murder, the play, which debuted in 2000, is a series of vignettes featuring dozens of characters sharing a wide range of opinions.

“One moment you could be talking to the father in his house, the next, you are talking to someone in town,” Sommers said. In the CTG production, actors portray multiple characters from vignette to vignette. Sommers said that type of creative freedom is appealing to the show’s performers.

He also said the quickly shifting scenes means that the production has to have a simple set, as there are not breaks for extensive set changes. That simplified production means the full attention of the audience is on the actors.

“It’s not a show about costumes and scenery,” he said.

“The Laramie Project” was written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. Weeks after Shepard’s death, Kaufman and other members of the theater company went to Laramie to meet with the community and conduct the interviews that helped shape the play.

Kaufman later adapted the play into an award-winning HBO film.

The cast members of CTG’s production of “The Laramie Project” are Cindy Bower, Ben Brafford, Wes Cameron, Sandra Forman, Phillip Gilfus, Wyatt Greer, Kelly Hayden, Mickey Hyland, Tim Johnson, Caroline Knisley, Denise Larkin, Akiena Louis, Juliette Matthews, Ariel Morse, Curtis Myrick, Tony Prestwood, Isabel Rhoten, Marquis Santiago, Alec Shull and Abigail Snyder.

Michael Kamtman is directing the production.

Contact Bruce Buchanan at

This News & Record arts coverage is supported by contributions to ArtsGreensboro’s Arts & Theatre Media Fund.