The Wandering Theatre Company, 2017
Written by Moises Kaufman & Tectonic Theater Co.
Directed by Natalie Villamonte Zito
Lighting & Set Design by Jak Prince
Costume Design by Natalie Villamonte Zito
Off-Off Broadway Production at Access Theater Gallery November 2017
Capital Fringe Festival Production at the Atlas Performing Arts Center: Lang Theater July 2017
(For the first time in history, I chose to add a physical non-speaking Matthew in this production. Part memory, part spirt- Matthew is present onstage for the entire production.)
My decision to work on “The Laramie Project” came as a direct response to the November 2016 election of Donald Trump. I felt it was extremely important to bring this play to Washington, D.C. during the first year of Trump’s Presidency. I had a new vision for this production and led our ensemble of actors for months in historical research, character development and in creating the unique fluid movement of the piece. In July of 2017 we brought our production of “The Laramie Project” to our nation’s capital and won the TheaterMania Award for Best Physical Theatre at the Capital Fringe Festival. After seeing the impact made with audiences in D.C., we decided to bring this production to NYC in November 2017 and held talk-back sessions after performances to engage our patrons in dialogue. The response was overwhelming, it was clear that this piece of theatre is needed now more than ever.
It has been 19 years since the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, and yet here we are again seeing hate crimes committed all across the United States. Our beautiful nation, which is meant to be "United", is being divided by fear and hatred. This past year and half has seen a huge increase in hate crimes within our American communities, prejudice has somehow become acceptable. Matthew Shepard was gay, but he could have been Muslim...he could have been African American...he could have been an immigrant...he could have been a woman...he could have been transgender. And as Zubaida Ula says, “We have to mourn this and we have to be sad that we live in a town, a state, a country where sh** like this happens.”
The poignancy of the Laramie Project is in its honest examination of the American psyche within a community, without judgment. This play explores the humanity within us all, both the good and the bad; Any town could have been/could be Laramie. Hopefully as you experience this play today you are able to reflect upon the need for community dialogue about our current personal fears and prejudices. Only through dialogue can we come to a place of understanding and hope for change. “The whole thing, you see, the whole thing, ropes around hope, H-O-P-E.”