The Laramie project is a play written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project and first staged in 2000 at the Ricketson Theatre in Denver Laramie.
The play is set in Laramie and was inspired by the real case of an American student named Matthew Shepard who in October 1998 died in Laramie. Matthew was taken by two of his colleagues, tortured, beaten and then left to die tied on a fence because he was a homosexual. Matthew was discovered only about 18 hours after he was attacked and because of his extensive head injuries, Matthew died as the hospital six days later.
In the trial, one of the men confessed that the reason he attacked Matthew was because he hated homosexuals. Thus, the crime is considered by many to be a hate crime even though during the trial the accused claimed time and time again that they were not motivated by crime.
The play became popular because of its subject and it has been played and adapted by many theaters, high schools and colleges. The play tries to combat homophobia and religious hate and many people were inspired to make donations after seeing the play.
The play was protested and is still protested against by the Westboro Baptist Church and the reason behind this is that they felt attacked in the play because the play also depicts a group of Westboro protestants. In truth however, the Protestants were inspired from real life because during Matthew’s funeral, a group of Westboro Baptists gathered at the funeral and picketed it, showing up with homophobic signs.
The play was followed by another piece ten years after Matthew’s murder and the play was even adapted into a film in 2002.