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No Refund Theatre To Perform ‘The Laramie Project’

Matt Shepard, the gay 21-year old victim of a 1998 hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming, continues to live on at Penn State. Although this time it’s not the downtown State Theatre that’s celebrating Matt’s life, it’s No Refund Theatre. Their production of “The Laramie Project” takes Shepard’s tragic story, and breathes life into it in the HUB’s new Flex Theater this weekend.  

Every word of “The Laramie Project” is taken from actual interviews conducted by the Tectonic Theatre Project, the group that wrote and originally produced the play. Since every character in the production is a real person, this presented some unique challenges for the show’s director, Jesse Small.

“We did a lot of research on each and every one of the characters in the show,” Small said. “A real challenge we had was finding the perfect actors to keep the audience entertained, and I think this cast is perfect. I told them, ‘yes, it’s a character, but it’s a real person too.’”

Even though the characters in “The Laramie Project” are real people, they don’t appear to be at first glance. The minimalistic approach to the show dresses every character in black, and few props are used. However the smart writing of the show, and authentic acting talent of the cast dresses the characters better than costumes ever could.

“I was assigned Laramie for a class five years ago and within the first page, I was hooked,” Small said. “The reason I chose Laramie was because a lot of my close friends are gay, and I thought, ‘what if this happened to them?’ This show really changed my outlook on life in that way.”

The Flex Theatre becomes Laramie, Wyoming in this production, especially with the beautiful light design and solemn performances. The audience feels like they are being taken behind the scenes one of the most famous hate crimes in recent history. 

“No Refund Theatre was perfect for this show,” Small said. “The audience is so close, it feels very intimate. I knew we could pull it off.”

Check out some of the scenes from the show:

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“The Laramie Project” is running from Oct 29-31 in the HUB’s Flex Theater. As is tradition with all No Refund Theatre shows, admission is free. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook event.

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About the Author

Nick Weiss

Nick is a videographer at OnwardState. He is a sophomore in the College of Communications, studying as a Film & Video major. With most of his experience in documentary film, Nick continues to tell stories at Penn State. Email him [email protected]

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