COD College Theater Virtually Presents ‘The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later' Oct. 15 to 25

By: Angela Mennecke

The town of Laramie, WY sign as seen on the local highway

College of DuPage College Theater presents “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” Thursday, Oct. 15, to Sunday, Oct. 25. Virtual performances are 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. 

Directed by COD Theater Department Chair Connie Canaday Howard and created by Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber, the production revisits the 1998 hate-fueled murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay, 21-year-old college student. “The Laramie Project” was created by New York City-based Tectonic Theater company based on interviews conducted not long after the murder. Ten years later, the team returned to Laramie to explore if any progress or change has been made in the town.

The production has been auditioned, rehearsed and produced virtually via Zoom. Each actor received a technology package to create a remote studio which included a green screen, microphone, camera and adjustable lighting. With 10 actors performing more than 60 roles, each actor also received various costumes and wigs. 

“Bringing a production together always demands teamwork from the designers, director, actors and technical crew,” said COD Performing Arts Coordinator of Education and Engagement Jane Sarther. “Making the show virtual takes all of those production values and raises the bar even higher. Even if we aren’t able to be in person, creating and experiencing art is important for all of us. What College Theater is able to offer for budding theater artists to create and experience is so valuable.”

Canaday Howard said that while the script is powerful on its own, in the midst of COVID-19 it has taken on a whole new importance.

“It may be tempting to think that this horrific crime in Laramie was isolated and that such violence is rare, but from both statistical evidence and media headlines we know that is not true,” Canaday Howard said. “Laramie is not a unique place, and current events underscore that the potential for injustice and violence is, unfortunately, a series of systemic and societal problems with no boundaries. Ultimately, it asks each of us to actively work to create a better world for all of us.” 

Tickets are $16 per household. A streaming link will be sent to ticket holders after purchase. Please note the play contains mature themes and language. 

Talk back sessions will take place after the Oct. 15 performance with the production team and after the Oct. 23 performance with the actors and Canaday Howard. 

Cast members include Timothy Bode (Bensenville), Jamie Foster (Carol Stream), Brandon Luna (Carol Stream), Kailey Nelson (Carol Stream), Jackson Rummler (Downers Grove), Emma Schmalz (Carol Stream), Paula Smith (Orland Park), Nate Sojka (Lisle), Chris Talia (Carol Stream) and Christina Verges (Brookfield).

Support for College Theater is made possible by a generous gift from the College of DuPage Foundation’s Dr. Donald and Helen (Gum) Westlake Fund for Student Productions.

For more information, visit College Theater at College of DuPage.