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News Release

Moravian College Theatre Company Presents The Laramie Project

The story of Matthew Shepard who was brutally murdered because of his sexual orientation

Bethlehem, Pa., March 3, 2008—The Moravian College Theatre Company will present, The Laramie Project, a drama by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre project.  The play tells the true-life story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year old student at the University of Wyoming who was kidnapped, severely beaten, and left to die—tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.

Shepard was the victim of assault because he was gay. The Laramie Project is a breathtaking theatrical collage that explores the depths of fear and cruelty to which humanity can sink, and the heights of compassion to which humanity can rise. The story, based on interviews with inhabitants of the town, news reports following the murder, and journal entries by the playwrights, was the basis.

The Laramie Project will be performed under the direction of Bill Bauman. Aaron Bach ’10, (East Brunswick, N.J.) is assistant director, Peter Leonard is the lighting designer, and Louis Baio ’09, (Colonia, N.J.) is the stage manager. Moravian’s performance will feature 20 actors portraying 67 characters. The cast will feature Jen Balliet ’09 (Metuchen, N.J.), Rey Benschop ’10 (New Windsor, N.Y.) , Katie Bernstein ’08 ( Dobbs Ferry, N.J.), Jenn Checkley ’11 (Long Valley, N.J.), Jessica Croll ’09 (Red Hill, Pa.), Daniel Foltz-Morrison ’09 (Westfield, N.J.), Jason Ginther ’11  (Norristown, Pa.), Chris Hoagland ’11 (Willow Grove, Pa.), Ron Kline (Moravian College staff member), Rebecca Kolacki ’10 (Blue Point, N.Y.), Gerard Longo ’09 (Long Valley, N.J.), David Melby-Gibbons (Moravian Theological Seminary student), Phil Minnich ’10 (Palm, Pa.), Kim Porcino ’10 ( Lebanon, N.J.) , Geoffrey Roche ’08 (Bethlehem, Pa.), Patrick Rosendale ’10 (Hamburg, N.J.), Justin Sisko ’10 (Palmerton, Pa.), Adam Spaugh (Moravian Theological Seminary student), and Lauren Taylor ’11 (Haddon Heights, N.J.). 

The stage for play will include four large-screen plasma TV screens which will display titles, characters’ identification, news broadcasts, and other supporting materials. Costume changes will be done on stage. At the end of each show, the screens will display photographs of hate crime victims. WFMZ’s Channel 69 and TV-2 Service Electric are helping with the television equipment for the production.

As part of a introduction The Laramie Project, Thomas B. Howard, education director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, will present “Erasing Hate:  A Community Discussion” on Thursday, March 13, at 4 p.m. in the Haupert Union Building’s UBC Room. Howard will lead a discussion that seeks to gain understanding and replace hate with compassion, understanding and acceptance. 

The production will run for five performances in the Arena Theatre at Moravian College: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 13 to 16 at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturday and Sunday, March 15 and 16 at 2 p.m. All performances will be followed by a “talk back” Q&A session with the cast and audience.

Tickets are $18 for general admission and $15 for senior citizens/students. Reduced rates are available for groups of 10 or more.  For further information or ticket reservations, call 610 861-489.  The Arena Theatre is located in the Haupert Union Building, Monocacy and West Laurel Streets, Bethlehem, Pa. A portion of the proceeds from the production will benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.