Multimedia performance examines small town’s tragedy
For the Nevada Appeal
The Brewery Arts Center presents “The Laramie Project,” the critically acclaimed play that tells the story of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in 1998. The show opens Friday, April 16.
“The Laramie Project,” is a Tony award-winning production with great social relevance, created by the Tectonic Theater Group, whose members made several trips to Laramie, Wyo., in the year following Shepard’s murder and experienced first-hand, the fallout and effects on the community.
“The story doesn’t focus so much on the death of Matthew, who was beaten and tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyo., but rather looks at how his death impacted the community,” said John Procaccini, BAC’s executive director. “The story is really one of hope and healing.”
This multimedia performance, the first of its kind at BAC, is being presented through the efforts of BAC’s Performing Arts Collaborative, (BACPAC), The Filmmaking and Animators Club, Northern Nevada Film Factory, BAC’s technical crew and Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), in an effort to raise awareness and grow understanding of the gay and lesbian community.
The performance includes a lot of new, local talent in an evening that includes live acting with video shot throughout Carson City, presented on four screens, in an effort to localize the message.
“Given the tenor of our nation – how we’ve seen hatred and bigotry come forward with the election of the new president and the healthcare debate – ‘The Laramie Project’ is a very timely story,” said Rebecca Palmer, founder of Carson City PFLAG. “This could happen anywhere, even in Carson City, because once we begin to look at a person as an object, we’re given permission to treat them badly rather than see their value.”
PFLAG members will be at the performances with information and to answer any questions. The nationwide, non-profit organization is open to everyone.
“We have many straight supporters who believe in equal rights for everyone and want to end discrimination,” Palmer said. “I personally have an abiding interest in equal rights for all and the more understanding we foster, the healthier our communities will be.”
Director Andie Anderson chose this play because she believes it will touch the community in ways most plays cannot.
“It is the story of a community affected by tragedy, and because Laramie, Wyo., is similar to Carson City demographically, socially and geographically, I think our residents will relate to the story,” she said. “This could be any small town in America.”
For Procaccini, the issue of gay rights hits close to home, as his brother is gay.
“I struggle with how to even say that, because I want to be sensitive without being overly politically correct,” he said.
“But I know our family, that I could have really benefited from an organization like PFLAG in helping us to understand.
“BAC’s not trying to push an agenda, except to say we should all take a minute to think about how something like this would impact our community,” he said. “The message is powerful and so very important.”
“The Laramie Project” performances take place at 7:30 p.m. April 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and May 1, in BAC’s Performance Hall, 511 W. King St., Carson City. Tickets cost $18 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors and BAC members, and can be purchased at BAC, 449 W. King St., by calling 775-883-1976 or at http://www.breweryarts
For more information about PFLAG, call Rebecca Palmer at 775-303-8031 or visit pflag.org.