Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Laramie Project

Posted by nliakos on January 30, 2012

by Moisés Kaufman

I don’t usually read plays; I prefer to see them performed on stage or even on TV. Maybe that is why I never read this when it was the University of Maryland First Year Book back in 2002-2003, and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since. I took it down after the public library snatched the book I was reading off my Nook when I couldn’t finish it in 14 days (Excuse me? The book had over 400 pages! I have a job! How could I possibly have finished it?).

The tragic story of the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shephard is the centerpiece of this Teutonic Theater Project play, so I assumed I would be reading about the callousness and prejudice of the people of Laramie, whose interviews make up the play. I’ve been through Laramie, driving west to California on Route 80.  It is so alien for me–like a different country, maybe a different planet. But I was wrong. Most of the people who “speak” in the play were as appalled by the crime as I was. Several of them are also gay. Who thought there were so many gay students, professors, and citizens in Laramie WY? (I guess it’s like Jews: we are everywhere.) So I ended up feeling somewhat comforted by the idea that the two young men who beat Matt Shephard to the point of death and then left him to die, and who are paying for their crime in prison, were as much of an aberration in Laramie as they would be in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

I recommend it to English learners because it is quite short and the language is quite accessible.

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