Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tommy Wrenn takes on Laramie Project

On Oct. 12, 1998, Matthew Shepard succumbed to injuries sustained as a victim of a hate crime. Details of the case spread around the world, and news crews descended on Laramie, Wyoming. Even though his assailants attacked because Matthew was gay, the murderers could not be charged with a hate crime since no federal or state laws were in place. Almost immediately, efforts were made to create hate crime legislation yet, thanks to "politics," it took 11 years to succeed. In October 2009, President Obama held true to his word and signed the legislation named in honor of Matthew Shepard and another hate crime victim, James Byrd, Jr.
The Laramie Project is a collection of statements made by people in the town of Laramie, documenting details, recollections, and reactions to Matthew's attack. Moise's Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project conducted more than 200 interviews over the course of a year and half. The resulting play has also been produced by HBO as a feature film.
Thanks to Tommy Wrenn, Laramie citizens were portrayed on a local stage by high school students. Just 17 years old, Tommy directed the play for his senior high school graduation project. The students on stage were only a few years younger than Matthew was when he died; many of them are headed for college just like Matthew was enrolled in the University of Wyoming. The actors told a story of a peer.
Their performance this weekend was astounding, conveying much more than dialogue of a play. The audience cheered, clapped, and offered a standing ovation to the cast and director for a job well-done, yet the energy conveyed seemed to honor Matthew and The Laramie Project as well. Hate is everywhere, and though Tommy Wrenn may or may not realize it, he stared down the monster when he chose a labor of love. The countless hours devoted to his senior project came to fruition sending out positive energy for the Greensboro, NC community. Our town has had its share of history laced with hatred; kudos to the school administrators that allowed the production, and thanks to Tommy for sharing the love. Matthew lives on in the hearts of those who have shared his story.


  1. I saw the play too and just wanted to add my kudos and thanks to Tommy and his talented troupe for reminding us that hate takes many forms and desecrates everything in its path.

  2. Was so thankful to see this beautifully directed, acted play. in the midst of the sadness - gives hope. deborah suess