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Posted by Luca Maurer at 3:38PM   |  Add a comment

IC students staged outstanding performances of the Laramie Project on campus last semester, and this semester a unique campus-community collaboration brings the story to the stage once again.  Several of the original IC cast members will act in the community production - in all, nine student actors from Cornell, Ithaca College and Ithaca High School will join eleven actors from the local community to bring to life the nearly seventy characters who make up the voices of Laramie, Wyoming as it reacts to the murder of one of its own, a young gay man named Matthew Shepard.

The two-performance event will be a concert staging of the play by Theatre Incognita at the Community School of Music and Arts in downtown Ithaca. Performances take place at 8 pm, Thur and Fri, Feb 10 & 11. All profits will go to local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth programs. Tickets are $10 in advance through Ticket Center Ithaca (607.273.4497 or 1-800-28-ITHACA), next to 15 Steps on the Commons, or online at They will also be available at the door for $15.

Local favorites and Incognita vets R.M. Fury (American Buffalo) and Kit Wainer (The Dodgson Girls)  are joined by newcomer Nathan Shinagawa, Tompkins County legislator and Guthrie hospital administrator. Shinagawa will play the role of Rulon Stacey, the CEO of the hospital where Matt spent his final days.

Students in the cast include Sarah Perry, Hillary True-Palmer and A.J. Wolbrum from Ithaca College; Nathalie Berman, Danny Bernstein, Alejandro Ruiz, Jesse Turk and Erin Wagner from Cornell; and Kevin Hilgartner from Ithaca High School.

Rounding out the cast are Eric Kofi Acree, Payal Ballaya, Erik Bjarnar, Sherron Brown, Junito Cubero, Darryle Johnson, Carolina Osorio Gil and Kathryn Russell.

Theatre Incognita’s artistic director Ross Haarstad directs. Well-known Ithaca musician John Simon will provide live musical accompaniment.

In October 1998 Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie. Five weeks later, Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie, and over the course of the next year, conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town. From these interviews they wrote the play, a chronicle of the life of the town in the year after the murder.

The Laramie Project is produced by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service,  Inc., NYC, and is being presented with grant support from the Community Arts Partnership. Cosponsoring The Laramie Project  are the Multicultural Resource Center; Out for Health: Planned Parenthood's LGBT Health and Wellness Program; Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services; Cornell LGBT Resource Center and Suicide Prevention & Crisis Services.

More information is available at .

Incognita’s “Our Town Project” is an ongoing, multi-year series of concert readings and related events that explore the ideas behind Thornton Wilder’s classic play through a variety of lenses, with a particular emphasis on what makes an American community. Previously produced in this project was an October 2010 concert staging of James Baldwin’s Blues for Mister Charlie.

“Not since Angels in America has a play attempted so much; nothing less than an examination of the American psyche at the end of the millennium." Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press


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