Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



A return to Laramie
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

This article shared 3591 times since Wed Mar 7, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Director Greg Kolack is surprised that it has taken more than two years for a Chicago theater company to produce an extended run of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Now directing a production at the intimate storefront Redtwist Theatre, Kolack feels The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later should get more exposure on its own, but also should be paired with the original Laramie Project.

"These shows have to be presented together," Kolack said, calling The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later more of an "epilogue" or "follow-up" than a sequel.

"Even though [The Laramie Project plays] were written 10 years apart, I still think of them very much as an Angels in America or The Kentucky Cycle where each play stands on its own, but to get the full impact you need to see them both," Kolack said. "That became a bit of a project for me to pitch around to theaters."

Although Redtwist Theatre isn't presenting both plays as full-fledged productions, it is at least producing the first Laramie Project play in a staged reading form on Saturday afternoons. That way die-hard theater fans can see both works in one day the way many have also experienced the multi-play Kentucky Cycle and both parts of Angels in America (which, incidentally, will be staged at Court Theatre March 30-June 3).

Since The Laramie Project debuted in Denver before moving to New York in 2000, it has gone on to be one of the more influential dramas of the past decade. It came about when playwright Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project (best known then for the thoroughly research drama Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde) journeyed to Wyoming and Colorado to interview townsfolk to get their reactions to the widely reported 1998 hate-crime death of gay college student Matthew Shepard.

Kaufman and his collaborators' verbatim interviews formed the powerful docu-drama text for The Laramie Project. The play prompted great community discussions and served as a conduit to promote acceptance and tolerance of LGBT people and issues when The Laramie Project saw regional productions around the country and the world.

Yet as the 10th anniversary of Shepard's death approached in 2008, Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project returned to Wyoming to see how the community had (or hadn't) changed in the ensuing years. These interviews formed the basis for The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, which had its premiere in simultaneous readings across the world on Oct. 12, 2009, the 11th anniversary of Shepard's death. About Face Theatre teamed up with the Goodman Theatre to present The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later in Chicago.

"People are actually still discovering it," Kolack said, noting that despite the big publicity for The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later in 2009, there has been relatively few productions of it across America. "It surprises me that there are a lot of people, even in theater, who know of The Laramie Project, but don't know the second one exists."

Chicago actress Eleanor Katz appeared in a London staging of The Laramie Project in 2007 at the East 15 Acting School, and she's grateful to be a part of Redtwist's Laramie productions.

"I think it's given us a sense of closure," said Katz about performing both Laramie plays back to back. "We've started with these characters and now we've seen how they've changed and how their lives have been affected over a decade."

However, on the controversial side, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later focuses on the revisionist takes on Shepard's death that take homophobia out of the equation. It also depicts a disturbing interview with Aaron McKinney, one of Shepard's convicted murderers.

At the sentencing of McKinney and his accomplice, Russell Henderson, both were specifically barred from speaking to the press (it was part of the agreement that spared the two from the death penalty). Yet ABC News' 20/20 broke that ban in 2004 with a much-condemned interview with McKinney where he argued that Shepard's murder was not a hate crime, but a drug deal gone wrong.

"The characters from the first one that you think will have a profound change over 10 years, do," said Eleanor Katz. "It's the new characters that come into the second piece that really I think shock you when you hear them because there are rumors that have manifested and have taken the whole murder and what surrounds it into a different and frustrating direction."

On Saturday, March 10, Redtwist Theatre presents a special benefit performance of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later that will benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It prominently features a pre-show reception and introduction by Judy Shepard, Matthew's mother.

"I'm really more excited than nervous to meet her," Katz said about Shepard's Redtwist appearance. "I think she appreciates anytime a theater company does one of the two Laramie productions because it's bringing awareness because that's one of the best things about theater is how it can bring about social change."

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later continues through Sunday, April 7, at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with 3 p.m. matinees Sundays. Tickets are $25 to $30 and $20-$25 for students and seniors. Readings of the first play, The Laramie Project, are at 3 p.m. Saturdays until April 7. Tickets to the reading are $15. There is no late seating.

A special benefit performance of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later where proceeds go to benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation is Saturday, March 10. There is a reception at 6:30 p.m., an introduction to the play by Judy Shepard (Matthew Shepard's mother) at 7:30 p.m., and a talkback session led by Susan Burk of the Matthew Shepard Foundation after the show. Tickets $100 for the benefit. For more information on all Redtwist Theatre performances, call 773-728-7529 or visit .

This article shared 3591 times since Wed Mar 7, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

A stocking stuffed with holiday shows! 2022-12-03
- Christmas follows fast on Thanksgiving's leftovers, which means sugarplums-and-treacle time for Chicago theater, when many troupes offer holiday shows. There are at least 40 of 'em, from biggies such as the 45th annual A Christmas Carol ...

Gay News

Billy Porter receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame 2022-12-02
- On Dec. 1, award-winning actor/director/singer/playwright Billy Porter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "I'm just so blessed and so grateful to be here," he said, according to KTLA. "James Baldwin said, 'It's an ...

Gay News

Peppermint barks while Broadway bangs, and all the other dish to start the week 2022-11-28
- "I love Broadway. I love what they do—Broadway Cares, but I also want to say the show is extraordinary!" —Nicole Kidman's impromptu speech after bidding $100K to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for Hugh Jackman's hat after ...

Gay News

New York theaters bounce back: Four shows ask questions about identity 2022-11-22
- All theater critics worth their salt should take a bite of the Big Apple now and then, savoring the bright lights of Broadway and a soggy slice of what passes for pizza. On my first visit in nearly three years, Broadway ...

Gay News

Gay man to head Chicago Latino Theater Alliance 2022-11-15
- The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA) announced the appointment of Jorge Valdivia as its new executive director, according to the Lawndale News. Valdivia's previous position was director of performing arts at the National Museum of Mexic ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Porchlight's Rent is a winner 2022-11-09
By Jonathan Abarbanel - Title: Rent. Playwright: Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center. Tickets: 773-777-9884;; $25 and up. Runs through: Dec. 11 From its 1996 premiere ...

Gay News

Mister International Rubber takes the stage at Center on Halsted, Riviera Theatre 2022-11-07
- The MIR26 (Mister International Rubber) competition took place at the Center on Halsted and the Riviera Theatre over the Nov. 4-6 weekend. Pusckatt Pumera Onyx won the competition. The event was co-emceed by Lucy Stoole and ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Gay racer, GALECA, Lena Waithe, 'Chicago,' LGBTQ+ films 2022-11-06
- Gay motorsports racer Zach Herrin made his long-awaited debut in a NASCAR-affiliated race in Phoenix, The Advocate noted. "I know I have a lot of eyes on me, and all I want to do is get out there and blur everything ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Nathan Lane, gala, Beyonce, Kevin Aviance, Henry Cavill, Shania 2022-10-30
Video below - Nathan Lane is returning to Broadway this winter to star in the debut run of Pictures of Home, per The Hollywood Reporter. Based on the photo memoir by Larry Sultan of the same name and adapted ...

Gay News

Young trans playwright queers Shakespeare in new production 'Malapert Love' 2022-10-29
- The Artistic Home will debut Malapert Love on Nov. 5-Dec. 11 in Wicker Park at The Den Theatre's Upstairs Mainstage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. The gender-bending, Shakespearean romantic comedy was written by 18-year-old Siah Berlatsky, who's ...

Gay News

THEATER 'The Golden Girls' holiday special Nov. 26-Dec. 30 2022-10-27
- Hell in a Handbag Productions is in The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, The Obligatory Holiday Special, playing Nov. 26-Dec. 30 at The Hoover-Leppen Theatre at The Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. Dorothy, Rose, ...

Gay News

'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' to take place Dec. 22-24 2022-10-26
- Cirque Dreams Holidaze is set to dazzle Chicago audiences with a Broadway-style production infused with contemporary circus arts. The production will play for six performances on Dec. 22-24 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 Ida B. Wells ...

Gay News

16th Street Theater to close at the end of the year 2022-10-26
- The board of Berwyn's 16th Street Theater announced that the award-winning, nationally acclaimed Equity theater company will close at the end of 2022. A statement read, "For 15 inspiring seasons, plus two years of the pandemic, ...

Gay News

Cody Estle to step down as Raven Theatre artistic director 2022-10-24
- Raven Theatre's board of directors announced that Cody Estle will step down as the company's artistic director at the end of November. Estle has been the company's artistic leader since 2017. He will join Milwaukee's Next ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: COVID book, 'Wicked' cocktails, 'A Taste of Hope' and more 2022-10-24
- —COVID-19, the LGBTQIA+ Community and Public Policy: As studies emerge to help us understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on every facet of modern life, it is critical that the effect of the pandemic on ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.