Candlelight vigil for nonviolence to follow ‘The Laramie Project’ at LTCC |

Candlelight vigil for nonviolence to follow ‘The Laramie Project’ at LTCC

Staff report

A series of events focusing on nonviolence will accompany “The Laramie Project” at Lake Tahoe Community College. The play focuses on the true story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student.

The Theatre Arts Department will present the play at 7:30 p.m. March 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20, and at 2 p.m. on March 14 and 21 at in the Duke Theater.

In addition to post-show discussions that will follow performances, a panel discussion focusing on the issues of hate and tolerance will follow the matinee performance on March 14. The panel will include experts on the issues of hate crimes and tolerance, as well as community members who will share their experiences.

A candlelight vigil for nonviolence will follow the March 20 performance. The community is invited to both events.

“The Laramie Project” is a docu-drama about the hate-crime murder of Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten by two young men, tied to a fence and left to die. Writer-director Moises Kaufman and actors of New York’s Tectonic Theatre Project journeyed to Laramie to interview locals about the murder. After 400 hours of interviews, they created a theater piece focusing on the citizens of Laramie, how they were affected and ultimately changed by this act of violence within their community.

This is the third time director Susan Boulanger, LTCC’s new director of theater, has brought the production to the stage.

“It is an important story to tell,” Boulanger said in a prepared release. “When this happened to Matthew, it was the first time the nation as a whole really started talking about the issue of hate. In recent years, we have stopped talking about it.”

President Barack Obama recently signed into federal law the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate crime bill. This bill will help law enforcement prosecute hate crimes at a state level.

“There has been some progress,” Boulanger said. “But we have a whole generation of students now who have never heard of Matthew Shepard. The new legislation is a great stride forward, but we have to keep talking about it.”

The play contains mature themes and content and may not be suitable for those under age 15.

The schedule of events includes:

March 12, 7:30 p.m.: Opening night performance, welcome by Stew Bittman, Ph.D., of Unity at the Lake Church; post-performance discussion facilitated by Stew Bittman, Ph.D.; reception to follow.

March 13, 7:30 p.m.: Performance; post-performance discussion facilitated by Rosemary Manning, clinical psychologist.

March 14, 2 p.m.: Matinee performance; 4:15 hate/tolerance panel discussion. Panel members will include Jerry Birdwell, mayor of South Lake Tahoe; Chris Campion, F.B.I. special agent, South Lake Tahoe; officers Alisa Bendel and Robert Autre, South Lake Tahoe Police Department; Bill Robey, executive director El Dorado Community Foundation; Ethan Niven, LTCC student; Matt Huckabay, director of The Center for Violence-Free Relationships, Placerville.

March 18, 7:30 p.m.: Performance; post-performance discussion to follow.

March 19, 7:30 p.m.: Performance; post-performance facilitated by Rosemary Manning, clinical psychologist.

March 20, 7:30 p.m.: Performance; candlelight vigil at 9:30 p.m. Reception to follow.

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