Murray State University to host “The Laramie Project” about slain University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard on Feb. 29-March 3

By Brent Menchinger | Feb 14, 2024

Laramie Project players

From left to right: Danny Preklas of Paducah, Kentucky; Zoie Overby of Wickliffe, Kentucky; Carter Parks of Mayfield, Kentucky; Holden Mast of O’Fallon, Illinois; Ashley Rhineburger of Owensboro, Kentucky; Jackson Bell of Murray, Kentucky; Abby Meadows of Paducah, Kentucky. (Not pictured: Liv Lane of Murray, Kentucky.)

MURRAY, Ky. – “The Laramie Project” by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project will be performed on the third floor of the Wilson Hall Studio Theatre from Feb. 29-March 2 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10. Murray State students get in free with an ID.

In October 1998, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming was kidnapped, severely beaten and left tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming. His bloody, bruised and battered body was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in an area hospital. His name was Matthew Shepard, and he was the victim of this assault because he was gay.

Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half, in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town.

Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, while others were citizens of Laramie, and the breadth of the reactions to the crime is fascinating. Kaufman and Tectonic Theater members have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences in Laramie. “The Laramie Project” is a breathtaking collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which individuals are capable.

“When I first found out that I would be directing ‘The Laramie Project,’ I could not have been more excited, but then this overwhelming experience surrounded me with the level of importance in this show,” said Director Wayne Shields-Hogue. “We have such a heart wrenching story to tell you, and my actors could not have been better selected to tell you that story. Matthew Shepard’s experience changed history, and we want to share that with you.”

Cast Member Abby Meadows said, “I’ve had an amazing time working on ‘The Laramie Project.’ It has been a very eye opening experience for all of us. Especially me. I really hope everybody comes out to see this show. I think it’s something that Murray definitely needs to see.”

Fellow Cast Member Zoie Overby agreed.

“I’ve had a really great time doing ‘The Laramie Project,’” said Overby. “It’s not something I ever really expected to do on a college campus, just like the weight of the story that we’re telling. Everyone that’s involved is putting all of their effort into it, and I think it’s gonna be really beautiful.”


⁃ Abby Meadows of Paducah, Kentucky

⁃ Ashley Rhineburger of Owensboro, Kentucky

⁃ Carter Parks of Mayfield, Kentucky

⁃ Danny Preklas of Paducah, Kentucky

⁃ Holden Mast of O’Fallon, Illinois

⁃ Jackson Bell of Murray, Kentucky

⁃ Liv Lane of Murray, Kentucky

⁃ Zoie Overby of Wickliffe, Kentucky

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