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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 874-7892

URI Theatre examines hate crimes with The Laramie Project

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 23, 2002 -- URI Theatre kicks off its 2002-2003 season with a production that promises toThe Cast of the Laramie Project influence both the mind and the heart. The Rhode Island premiere of The Laramie Project, a play written by Moisés Kaufman and the Members of the Tectonic Theater Project, examines the true story of what happens to a small-town community after a heinous hate crime.

The play runs Oct. 10-12 and Oct. 16-19 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for students/seniors/children. Tickets can be purchased at the Theatre Box Office or by calling 401-874-5843.

Kaufman and his colleagues made six trips to Laramie, Wyo. during the 18 months following the October 1998 murder of 21-year-old, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. Shepard was found tied to a fence, unconscious and brutally beaten because he was gay. He died five days later.

The Laramie Project is the result of 200 interviews conducted with Laramie residents.

The URI production has 12 actors playing 67 roles, challenging the performers with split-second character changes. Director Bryna Wortman, assistant professor of theatre and artistic director of the Island Theatre Company, describes the play as "a theatrical collage that creates a great impact upon its audience because it examines the reactions of ordinary people, both liberal and conservative, both compassionate and not."

The play depicts no acts of violence and even has a touch of humor, according to Wortman.
The Laramie Project was chosen "to open the doors of communication concerning hate crimes and to help people realize that no community is safe from events such as these as long as people refrain from searching their hearts and eliminating the hate that exists there," said Wortman.

Following the play’s opening night Oct. 10, there will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer period in celebration of Diversity Week. Panel members are Rev. Jennifer Phillips of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church; Protestant Chaplain Hailani Chan-Williams; Father John Soares of the Catholic Center; Jewish Chaplain Naomi Sobel; Kate Monteiro, president of the Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights; Andrew Winters, URI assistant to the vice president for GLBT affairs; and Winifred Brownell, dean of the URI College of Arts and Sciences.

For Information: Bryna Wortman 874-2705

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