McKendree Theatre Presents The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later

(LEBANON, Ill., March 23, 2017) — The McKendree University Theatre Department will present “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, March 30 through April 2. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s matinee starts at 2:30 p.m.

“‘The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later’ is an epilogue to the original play, which we produced ten years ago,” said Director Michelle Radke-Magnussen. “It asks us to take stock of where we are now, ten years after our production and almost 20 years after Matthew Shepard’s murder.”

Shepard was a 21-year-old gay college student whose brutal murder in 1998 was characterized as a hate crime. Moisés Kaufman and his colleagues at the Tectonic Theatre Project wrote and produced the first “Laramie Project” 17 years ago. They traveled to Laramie, Wyoming one month after Shepard was murdered. Through interviews with local citizens, company members’ journal entries and other available texts, they wrote “The Laramie Project.”

The company returned to Laramie in 2008 and met again with the townspeople to see how things had changed on a social and legislative level in ten years. This is how they wrote “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.”

The Tectonic Theatre Project has allowed the department to use its excerpt of the first play, which covers the initial social reaction to the murder.

McKendree University 2009 graduate Mary “Molly” Tiede, a former assistant lighting director from The Boston Lyric Opera and collaborator with Tectonic Theatre Project, will help students by returning to design the lighting for the show. Tiede was a theatre student and the lighting designer for McKendree’s production of “The Laramie Project” in 2007.

The department has collaborated with several student groups on and off campus, including area organizations, who will be set up in the Hett lobby before each production. Audience members are invited to participate in post-show discussions each night, led by a variety of community members.

“I hope this play begins or continues discussions between members of our community,” said the director. “In our increasingly fractured discourse, we risk losing the connection of really talking and listening to each other.”

Joining Radke-Magnussen and Tiede are Doug Magnussen, technical director; Julia Surdyke, assistant technical director; and Victoria Day, assistant director.

Cast members are Daniel Buijs, Maggie Canizales, Dylan Comer, Caitlin Cronin, Victoria Day, Genna Fanning, Chandler Hankins, Brett T. Hanna, Mary Frances Hardig, Lyndellia Mannie, Virginia Parkinson, Codi Smith, Chloe Thies, Connor Vosholler, Emma Webster and Jacob Wilson.

Crew members are Jaycee Kusco, stage manager; Meredith Vincent, assistant stage manager; Scott Crim, set foreman; Sean Fulton, sound board operator; Mackenzie Menn and Molly Reitano, wardrobe; Emily Harper, Cole Nordmann and Kyle Nordmann.