Research for the The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman’s internationally successful play, began one month after a horrific crime occurred in the city of Laramie, Wyoming. Members of Kaufman’s theatrical group, Tectonic Theater Project, volunteered to travel with their director from New York City to the wide-open ranges of the West in order to gather in-person interviews from Laramie’s populace. The idea was to capture the emotions, reflections, and reactions of the people who were most closely related to the crime—the brutal beating and subsequent death of a young college student. Was this a hate crime? Or was it a random, senseless assault and robbery? No matter which, Kaufman’s objective was to explore the issues of homosexuality, religion, class, economics, education, and non-traditional lifestyles through the residents’ raw responses to the incident. How did this crime define the culture, not just of this Western town, but of the entire United States?
The play is based on more than 400 interviews with about 100 Laramie residents, as well as journal entries from the members of Tectonic Theater Project and Kaufman, as they reflect on their own reactions to the crime and to the interviews they carried out. Structured as a documentary, it attempts to reenact the events that occurred on that fateful night. THE LARAMIE PROJECT is one of the most performed plays in America today.