In October of 1998, Matthew Shepard, a gay 21-year old student attending the University of Wyoming in the city of Laramie, was brutally beaten with a pistol, robbed, and left to die tied to a fence in an isolated part of the Wyoming countryside. Shepard was found 18 hours later by cyclist Aaron Kreifels, who thought he was a scarecrow. He was taken to a hospital, but died six days later.
Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were eventually arrested, convicted for the hate crime, and sent to prison for life without parole. Their girlfriends, Kristen Price and Chasity Pasley, were charged with being accessories after the fact. Shepard’s murder brought national attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.
The Charles O. Dickerson High School Drama Club presents “The Laramie Project” on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $10/adults and $5/students. This show is not intended for young audiences and is recommended for people 14 years old and up because of the adult themes and graphic language. It is suggested that parents attend the performance with their children to encourage discussion of this intense topic.
“The Laramie Project” was written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. The play draws upon hundreds of interviews conducted by members of the theater company, journal entries, and published news reports. It is divided into 3 acts with Trumansburg’s 28 actors playing 70 characters. The school’s adaptation will be performed in the pit rather than on stage and audience members will be encouraged to sit down front to interact better with the actors. Sets and scenery are minimal relying on lighting to designate actors as they perform “Moments” which are mostly short segments telling the story. This play is about character development and interaction with the audience rather than elaborate sets and scenery.
The show focuses on the aftermath of the murder and the community of Laramie which reflects on their own values and how they treated members of the gay community. It is directed by Principal Jon Koeng. Eleanor Kephart is the Student Assistant Director. The Production Team includes Yheva Martin, Maddy Brainard, and Hope Keifer.
“I wanted to do something to get our community to engage about accepting people who aren’t like us,” said Koeng. “We are a diverse community and a small town in many ways that could be just like Laramie. Coming to the show will make people uncomfortable, but it serves a purpose and has been an amazing experience of the actors.” Koeng will address the audience prior to the start of the play to let the people know that they will feel uncomfortable at times, but it is necessary for the community to grow.
All of the actors are important and critical to the story. There aren’t any real leads in this play, and everyone contributes to the telling of the story. The play shows how the town’s people finally realized that they needed to be involved and become more accepting. The show reflects opinions that are quite ugly.
Mikey Winters plays the part of murderer Aaron McKinney. “Being part of the LGBTQ community, I am conflicted and struggle to play the part of someone who has such hate against the community I am proudly a part of,” Winters said. “I think it is important to bring awareness to the subject in a way that is important to me and would be a good outlet.”
“The students are excited about engaging the community in such a difficult subject. We have the support of the superintendent, the administration, and the Board of Education. The Femtastic! Club is helping with marketing to get the word out about the play,” Koeng explained. “Lyn Stack from the Tompkins County Advocacy Center has been supporting the show and the actors, helping them to tackle this difficult topic. A portion of the admission will be donated to the Advocacy Center.”
Koeng concluded, “This is going to be a big deal for our community and people have been really supportive.”
Tompkins County Holiday Recycling Schedule
On Thursday, Nov. 28, and Friday, Nov. 29, the Tompkins County Department of Recycling and Materials Management will be closed in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The office will re-open on Monday, Dec. 1.
The Recycling and Solid Waste Center will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving Day but will be open its regular hours, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30.
There will be no curbside recycling pick-up on Thursday, Nov. 28.
Collection will be a day late for the remainder of the holiday week. That means if your scheduled pick-up day is Thursday, recycling will be picked up on Friday. If your pick-up day is normally Friday, collection will take place on Saturday.