THE LARAMIE PROJECT
Written by Moisés Kaufman and Members of the Tectonic Theater Project
Directed by John Geddie
Produced by Kathy Bleutge
The Laramie Project performances are scheduled for June 2021. This is a traveling show with venues tentatively scheduled in Loudoun and Western Fairfax Counties. Please check back frequently for more information.
The extraordinarily moving portrayal of the people of Laramie, Wyoming in the wake of the “hate crime” murder of Matthew Shepherd, is brought to life on stage with wrenching emotion. The town’s deeply personal and complex reactions are revealed in the immediate aftermath of the heinous and shocking crime… and revisited 10 years later with the tragic revelation that many memories of the murder’s shocking motivations have shifted from hate and intolerance to greed.
Sterling Community Center
150 Enterprise Street, Sterling, VA 20164
SO, WHAT IS THE LARAMIE PROJECT?
In 1998, a college student named Matthew Shepard was beaten and robbed by two young men in Laramie, Wyoming. The attack was particularly vicious because Matthew was gay. He later died of his wounds. The attack focused national attention on Laramie and inspired a wave of hate crime legislation and discussion about the rights of LGBT people.
Over the next year and a half, members of the Tectonic Theater Project visited Laramie six times, conducting interviews with the people there. They then distilled the interviews and the visits into The Laramie Project. Since its premier in 2000, the play has become part of the modern theatre canon. It was performed on Broadway, then later became popular with high schools and community theatre groups. It’s seen an HBO dramatization and even a sequel that examines the long-term impact of the Matthew Shepard murder.
OH, THAT'S HEAVY.
It is, but we think it’s an important show to produce, even with the strides the LGBT movement has seen in subsequent years. It’s a powerful show, even though no violence ever appears on stage.
For our production, we hope it’s a chance to stretch your dramatic muscles in a true ensemble production. From a performer perspective, we also know that you can enjoy yourself even when telling a serious story (sorry, Hamlet).
WHAT PARTS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are over 50 named parts in The Laramie Project. It was originally produced with a cast of eight performers, each portraying 6-10 characters. A list of the characters with a short description can be found here.
For our production, we anticipate casting 10-12 performers. Ideally, we’d like to see an even split between men and women and then a variety of ages. Each performer will be playing multiple roles along with serving as ensemble members. The narrator role also floats between the cast. Each part will have multiple strong scenes throughout the show.
SO, WHERE AND WHEN ARE AUDITIONS?
There are two audition dates: Friday, March 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 21 from noon to 3:30 p.m. If you are unable to attend either of these audition dates, please contact the director at and we can attempt to schedule an alternate time before auditions.
Auditions will be held in the temporary offices of the Sterling Community Center. The regular center at 120 Enterprise Street in Sterling is currently under renovations. The temporary offices are right across the parking lot at 150 Enterprise Street. We will try to have some outside signage to help you along.
CAN ANYONE TRY OUT?
Definitely. No parts are precast, and the Sterling Playmakers has a history of mixing experienced performers with novices looking for training and experience. Even if you don’t know that there’s a good role for you, our advice is always to try out. We try to keep auditions fun and fast-paced and every audition hones your skills and makes you better prepared for your next audition.
Because the performers in The Laramie Project will each be portraying multiple characters, there isn’t a requirement to portray any character as a certain ethnicity. Minority auditionees are certainly encouraged.
And a quick note. Anyone can audition, but if you are cast then you will need to join the Sterling Playmakers. Membership fees are $20 per household per year.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE ANYTHING PREPARED BEFORE AUDITIONS?
Nope. Auditions will only consist of non-memorized readings. Some of these readings are included here for those performers who really prefer preparing a reading beforehand. There will be additional cold readings at auditions. Each auditionee will have the opportunity to read three short readings. If time permits, we’d like to hear additional readings and then try out some short scenes with other auditionees.
If you’d like, you can fill out the audition form beforehand here.
THIS IS A 'TRAVELING SHOW," WHAT IS THAT? WHEN AND WHERE WILL PERFORMANCES BE?
This play is an experiment for the Playmakers and will be bringing our theatrical efforts to different venues in the Loudoun County and the western Fairfax area – instead of settling in and only performing at one location.
We are currently finalizing our venues now, but we have scheduled two evenings at Franklin Parks Arts Center (Purcellville), two nights at Sterling Middle School (Sterling) and a performance at Reston Unitarian Universalist Church (Reston). Our hope is to have between six and nine performances in June in coordination with Gay Pride Month Activities in the region. A full rehearsal schedule will be available at auditions.
WHAT ABOUT REHEARSALS?
Most rehearsals will be at the Sterling Community Center. The regular center at 120 Enterprise Street in Sterling is currently under renovations. The temporary offices are right across the parking lot at 150 Enterprise Street. Since the show is performing in different locations, we’re going to try and add some variety in the rehearsal locations too.
In general, there will be rehearsals Monday to Thursday through April and Monday through Friday in May in preparation for performances in June. That said, in the first month, most cast members will only be on call 2 days a week depending on performer availability. Even after the first month, we’ll attempt to be as respectful of everyone’s time throughout the process. A full rehearsal schedule will be available at auditions, or earlier depending on how quickly the performance dates can be verified.
In the past, rehearsals at the community center have run from 7 to 9 p.m. Given the time limitations, we may start rehearsals at 6:30 p.m. depending on cast availability. Let us know about your availability in terms of times and dates on your audition form. We’ll try to make everything work.
SO, WHO'S INVOLVED?
The full staff list is filling up now, but here’s the current leadership team.
John Geddie will be directing. A Playmakers’ board member, John most recently directed The Philadelphia Story and 42nd Street. His assistant director will be Lauren Baker. A talented performer, this will be Lauren’s first foray into directing after most recently performing in Sister Act with Prince William Players. Kathy Bleutge is acting as producer. A Playmakers’ legend, Kathy was one of the Sterling Playmakers founders. Most recently, she directed Anne of Green Gables and Man of La Mancha. Kathy’s daughter, Lora Buckman, has agreed to be our assistant producer after just completing her producer duties with The Game’s Afoot in Reston. After having filled nearly every other role in a show, Playmakers co-chair Aubry Fisher will be acting as the show’s technical director. Most recently, Aubry produced Much Ado About Nothing.
ANY LAST-MINUTE ADVICE ON AUDITIONS?
Bribes (just kidding)
The Laramie Project is different than a lot of theatre you see at the community level. While there are funny bits, it’s not a comedy. This is a drama, full of pathos, emotion and (hopefully) understanding and catharsis. It’s also different from a lot of the more serious theatre pieces out there because it deals with real events and people. Look for true moments in the script and try to be as authentic as possible.
You might also consider showing some variety and differences of character in your readings to show that you’d be able to play multiple parts. When selecting audition readings, feel free to gender swap on readings (the original had a bit of that), but don’t play it for comedy.
Our goal is to help the audience understand the events and people of Laramie at that time. There were heroes, but there were also some misguided souls – and a lot of people who were still learning and trying their best. The people of Laramie found themselves in the national spotlight at the same moment they were forced to take a hard look at themselves. We want to be fair, but honest.