Last Call For Art: The Laramie Project

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Okay, this is your last chance to see one of the few theater productions this month that doesn't feature Santa, Scrooge, Frosty, or a talking Christmas tree: The Laramie Project at FrenetiCore Theatre. (Thank you E Catter Productions and the Cast of Eight for saving us from wonderland overload!)

There's nothing sweet or kid-friendly about Laramie Project. It's the story of Matthew Shepherd, a gay college student who was brutally beaten by two attackers who then left him hanging on a fence to die one night in 1998 (Shepherd was so beaten and broken, the person who found him the next morning thought he was a scarecrow). The hate crime shook the nation, especially the small town where it occurred, Laramie, Wyoming.

Tectonic Theater, a company from New York City, went to Laramie and interviewed the town's residents. Some were hostile, others shocked; each of them was changed. The Tectonic troupe cobbled the hundreds of interviews together into a script and The Laramie Project was born. A montage of some sixty characters played by eight actors, Laramie takes quotes from the resident interviews, news stories, and commentary by the members of Tectonic Theater.

Surprisingly, Shepherd is never seen on stage. He's talked about, he's remembered, he's the subject of each conversation and monologue, but he's eerily absent. Laramie Project is essentially the story of hope and perseverance in the face of a horrible crime, as the residents of Laramie, like many others across the country, vow not to let Shepherd's death go unnoticed. The show has a powerful, soul-stirring ending, but it's tough going getting there.

E Catter took over this production after the original director left during the rehearsal phase. Thinking the show was too important to let it wither away, the cast scrambled and pooled their own resources to present a short, two-night run. The response has been tremendous, according to cast members. Both shows are almost sold out, an extension of the run is being considered, and a possible spring tour is in the works.

See The Laramie Project at 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow. Frenetic Theatre, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 832-865-3413 or visit www.freneticore.net. $15 to $20.

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