The Laramie Project tackles the tragic murder of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard, in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 from the viewpoints of the townspeople who struggle to make sense of this crime.
Director Julie Rodgers-Baker, of Wheaton, shares why the of telling this story is still important almost 20 years later, "The Laramie Project affected me on so many levels. Matthew Shepard's brutal beating enraged me. How can people be so cruel? The pain and suffering inflicted on his parents distressed me. I'm a mom; I can't imagine having to go through anything like this".
Over 60 real life characters are portrayed through the story of Matthew Shepard and The Laramie Project. The 13 actors who play all these parts have a unique challenge in how to transform into these different characters in a matter of minutes.
Actor, Zach Gibson, of Glen Ellyn says, "As an actor, we are used to playing characters. In The Laramie Project, we aren't playing characters, but are enacting real people with their own beliefs, thoughts, & emotions. This is both a blessing and a challenge, as each member of the ensemble portrays 4-7 people. I find it very rewarding to embody each of the people I play, and take comfort in exploring my own relationship with who they were/are."
To round out this large cast is Ryan Allen of Arlington Heights, Emily A Beck of Elgin, Darius Fatemi of Chicago, James Griffin of Homer Glen, Hadley Hill of Lombard, Linda Rodemaker of Naperville, Benedict L Slabik II of Lombard, Kevin Taylor of Orland Park, Pam Turlow of Elmhurst, John Vinopal of Arlington Heights, Lynn Walsh of Highland Park, and Krystyn H Wells of Oak Park.
The Laramie Project is Produced by Dave Dolnics of Naperville and Debi Gits-Joseph of Wheaton. Stage Managers are Lisa Dolnics of Naperville and Jessica Scobey of Warrenville.
Actress Pam Turlow gives her inspiration for her portrayal of the people of Laramie, "At this turbulent time in our country's history, I feel it's so important to be doing a show like this that tackles subjects like tolerance and, hopefully, acceptance of all, no matter their lifestyle." She continues, "If our piece of theatre can help to enlighten just one person, can help soften their heart and help them realize that we really all are one, that "love is love", then our job here has been done."
Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. on March 24 through April 15 with a Thursday 8 p.m. show on April 13. Matinees are at 3 p.m. Sunday April 2 & 9 and Saturday April 15. All tickets are $18, available by calling 630-469-8230, or by going online at www.villagetheatreguild.org .
The Village Theatre Guild is located in Glen Ellyn near the northwest corner of Butterfield Rd. and Park Blvd.