‘The Laramie Project’

Nicole Fano

The Quinnipiac University Theatre for Community presented three productions for the public of Moisés Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project,” from Oct. 2-4. Presented in Buckman Theater, “The Laramie Project” was held partly in support of the University’s mandatory QU 101 classes. The play is about a young man named Matthew Shepard. Shepard was a young college student from The University of Wyoming who was tied to a fence and murdered by two young men because he was openly gay. The premise of “The Laramie Project” features members of the New York based Tectonic Theater Project who traveled to Laramie in order to learn more about Matthew, and the horrific events that occurred on Oct. 6, 1998. The play focuses on the interviews of several Laramie residents and their opinions regarding the hate crime.

The University production of “The Laramie Project,” directed by Mark Hoffner, a student in his final semester, featured 13 students who portrayed different Laramie residents. The characters in the play include: the town sheriff, the reverend, the emergency room doctor who treated Matthew, Matthew’s family and friends, and other Laramie locals. “The show is basically a community’s reaction to a shocking and isolating incident,” Hoffner said on the school’s Web site. “We don’t see the attack, but we hear about it.”

The cast included Brad Burkhard, Jameson Cherilus, Lorraine D’Sa, Bree Gooley, Katerina Johnson, Michael Lewis, Laura Maselli, Jessica Otterbine, Michael Pray, Maegan Pachomski, Richard Saraceno, John Scholl and Travis Weisse. A number of these students performed in their first production at Quinnipiac.

“I hope the audience really pays attention to all of the characters, but especially Jonas Slonaker,” sophomore Jameson Cherilus said. “I can relate to Jonas because after saying his lines a thousand times, I realized that he is correct. Our society tends to be ‘live and let live’ and that is why it is so difficult to define a community. We even have those ‘live and let live’ moments here at QU, to be honest.”

In one of the most memorable moments of the play, the character Aaron Kreifels, played by sophomore John Scholl, suffers from an emotional breakdown after he discovers Matthew’s body tied to the fence.

“This production made my views on acceptance, diversity and hate crimes more concrete,” Scholl said. “The play shows the horrific effects when people fail to accept others for who they are. I believe that we need diversity, and that being different is far better than just being another face in the crowd.

“As for hate crimes, well, I think that it just made me feel more compassion for victims of hate crimes. Especially hate crimes against sexuality.”