Next week the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television will open the 2023/2024 theatre season with The Laramie Project, performing in rep with The Thanksgiving Play. The production of The Laramie Project will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard. TFTV’s production will be directed by Assistant Professor Greg Pierotti, one of the play’s co-writers and original cast members.
Prof. Pierotti recently spoke with the Arizona Daily Star about the play’s origins, how it was received by the Laramie community, and what it’s been like to introduce students to the piece.
“We weren’t initially going out to make a play but to see if there was something there,” said Pierotti, one of the Tectonic Theater Project playwrights who first arrived in Laramie on Nov. 19, 1998. “And there certainly was.”
“We made it our goal that everybody [from Laramie] could come see the play and feel that what they had to say was accurately represented,” he said. “And it’s interesting, because even the kind of more homophobic people who expressed more homophobic sentiments in the play felt accurately represented and didn’t feel defensive because we were sharing what they believed.”
The Laramie Project has been produced more than 3,000 times since its debut and has been translated into 30 languages.
“None of us were anticipating the level of success the play has had,” Pierotti said. “I think ultimately it’s the voices of the people of Laramie and Matthew’s story itself that kind of catapults it to this other level of prestige in American theater. None of us had any intention of doing that. We were very fortunate that it has had that kind of success.”
On the second day of rehearsals last month, TFTV students read the play out loud. “I was hearing it through my students and seeing how moved they were by it,” said Pierotti, who has taught theater at the University of Arizona for six years.
“I thought, ‘Wow, we did a good job’,” he said.
For more information on the production, tickets, and companion events, visit theatre.arizona.edu/shows/the-laramie-project.Read more at Arizona Daily Star