UFV Theatre brings to the stage The Laramie Project, the story of Matthew Shepard.
The production runs March 23 to April 1 at University of the Fraser Valley’s Abbotsford campus and is the second production of UFV Theatre’s 2022-2023 season
Created by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, this verbatim theatre piece is constructed from the transcripts of more than 200 interviews, conducted in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998.
The interviews were transcribed, edited and structured into a three-act play by members of the theatre company who worked to honour the voices of those they interviewed, as well as to artistically weave the stories into a coherent narrative.
The piece reveals a community grappling with violence, responsibility, and healing, and showcases how theatre can be a brave space for people to engage with this together.
The play is directed by Shelley Liebembuk, an assistant professor at UFV Theatre. Her focus is on praxis-based learning and inspiring creative and critical engagement in the studio and the seminar.
In directing this show, Liebembuk said she hopes “to generate space to support the 2SLGBTQ+ community, call in implicit and explicit homophobia, and engage in meaningful conversation.”
All students were invited to be part of the play, without an audition barrier. Each cast member is playing between five and 10 characters, taking on the acting challenge of performing a variety of real people with distinct world views.
“Theatre is an incredibly powerful and immediate way of engaging a group of people, as it allows artists to meet an audience in real time,” Liebembuk said.
“For me, at its best, theatre uses this immediacy to navigate current socio-political issues across a thoughtful and complex web of refraction and whimsy, that can lead to meaningful community conversation. I also love the collaborative process of making theatre, which melds the creative energy of so many artists, from writers and dramaturgs, to actors and directors, to designers and the production crew.”
The student cast features Alia Von Riesen, Caitlyn Shaw, Claire Holden, Clement Cameron, Esha Kumar, Keegan Zaporozan, Madalyn Clempson, Maximus Richards Rewt, Raven Turchinetz, Shivam Duggal and Taya Viger.
Students are also mentored by UFV associate professor Parjad Sharifi, wardrobe manager Heather Robertson, technical director Jared Raschke, and production manager Giuseppe Condello.
Opening night is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 23. Regular performances are on March 24, 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. and on March 25 and April 1 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for the public and $5 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at eventbrite.ca by searching “The Laramie Project.”