Many Lights Theatre
Tickets go on sale September 23 for "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" directed by Carol Davis and written by Moises Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber, members of the Tectonic Theatre Project. Bringing this production to Canton brings Davis, Many Lights and the story of Matthew Shepard full circle.
In 2006, Reverend Kenny Bloyd came up with the idea to use the church’s community room as a theatre to present "The Laramie Project" after hearing how Matthew Shepard’s death had impacted one of his church members. Carol Davis directed the original production, Bob Gorg signed on as part of the cast and the YWCA and Fulton-Mason Crisis Service helped to sponsor the production. Shortly after that, thanks to an endowment by the Thelma Weaver family, Many Lights was born as part of the church’s mission with Gorg as Artistic Director.
"The Laramie Project" uses interviews with the actual townspeople of Laramie, Wyoming to examine the violent, homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard. Shepard, a young gay man, was tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, beaten, pistol whipped and left to die in the frigid temperatures. A bicyclist found him unconcious18 hours later after first mistaking him for a scarecrow. Matthew died on October 12, 1998. His murder caused international outcry and became the symbolic focus of a nationwide campaign against gay hate crimes.
For "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" members of the Tectonic Theatre Project returned to Laramie and spoke to many of the same townspeople, including the men who killed Matthew Shepard, about the changes that have occurred in the intervening 10 years. What they discovered was that many people have chosen to re-write history. Despite evidence to the contrary, they choose to believe that Matthew was murdered during a “drug deal gone bad” instead of as a victim of homophobia.
The cast is made up of some members of the original cast and some new faces. Returning are Aaron Haacke, Chad Leitschuh, Pam Willison and Gordon James. New to this production but certainly not new to the stage are Julie Toney, Barbi Brewer-Watson and Glenn Nestlerode. Haacke, James and Toney are Many Lights Troupe members.
Performances are October 11, 12 (the anniversary of Matthew’s death), and 19 at 7pm and October 20 at 2pm. The Many Lights Theatre is located in the First Congregational United Church of Christ at 159 N. 2nd Avenue in Canton. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Many Lights box office at (309) 357-9366 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This show is recommended for adult audiences.