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NHS Debuts 'The Laramie Project'

Play explores reaction to gay college student's murder

The Theater Troupe will debut a production of The Laramie Project on Friday night, a decision which has rankled many teachers, according to the cast.

“It [the show] hasn’t been done…It’s difficult for high school,” said Director Matt Kunkel. “It’s a very important topic that needs to be told.”

The Laramie Project is based on reaction from the citizens of Laramie, Wyoming following the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay 21-year-old University of Wyoming student. Shepard was beaten and tortured by two men before being tied to a fence in a rural pasture where he was left to die. The murder was denounced as a hate crime motivated by homophobia and brought attention to the dirth of hate crime laws in various states, including Wyoming.

The play draws on hundreds of interviews conducted by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project with inhabitants of the town, company members' own journal entries, and published news reports. It is divided into three acts, and eight actors portray more than sixty characters in a series of short scenes. “I give them plenty of credit” said Kunkel. “[They are playing] a combination of 65 characters."

Northport High School Theater Troop members said the mood in the school is generally one of tolerance or acceptance, but the derogatory “f” word and other slurs are still used by students. In an effort to foster a positive environment, troop members have promoted tolerance within the halls of their school, as well as the community, and sold ads to local restaurants.

"This show promotes understanding, acceptance, and tolerance,” said Northport Senior and Show Producer Emma Novick. “It’s not just about homosexuality; it’s a universal acceptance of everybody.”

The Laramie Project will be shown at Northport High School in the Little Theater Nov. 18 at 7 p.m., Nov. 19 at 12 p.m., and Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 with a suggested donation of $2.00 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

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