One Campus, One Book | Sept. 16, 2013 | Spotlight

Manuscript addresses the critical issues of bigotry, prejudice

‘The Laramie Project’ chosen as this year’s campuswide read

A 15-year span has passed. A small town is never the same. A nation was awakened.

In October 1998, a young gay man, named Matthew Shepard, was discovered bound to a fence, beaten and left to die in the hills outside of Laramie, Wyoming. This act of hate, and Shepard’s death, became a national symbol of intolerance.

Picture of book cover.

Now, 15 years later, do you still witness hatred and bigotry in America today? How have we progressed as a society toward tolerance and acceptance?

To spark thought and conversation regarding such questions, Cal State L.A. has selected The Laramie Project as its 2013-14 One Campus, One Book (OCOB).

“The Laramie Project is a short yet emotionally powerful play about the murder of a gay university student,” said Librarian Scott Breivold, chair of the University’s One Campus, One Book Committee. “We felt a book, which explored LGBT related themes, in particular bullying and hate crimes, was particularly timely and would lend itself well to exploration of several topics across the curriculum as well as campus collaborations.”

Written by award-winning playwright Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, The Laramie Project is based on a compilation of 200 interviews and documents how things changed in Laramie after the murder. It was adapted for an HBO film and is also one of the most performed plays in America today.

The Publishers Week described the manuscript as an “innovative theatrical composition, structured not in scenes, but in ‘moments,’ address[ing] the various issues relating to the tragedy of Shepard…”

Kaufman is the founder and artistic director of Tectonic Theater Project, a theater company based in New York City. His 1997 play, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, was named one of the best plays of the year. He is the recipient of the 1997 Joe A. Callaway Award for excellence in the craft of stage direction. For the film adaptation of The Laramie Project, Kaufman received two Emmy Award nominations for best director and best writer.

The University Library at CSULA is encouraging members of the campus community to read the book. Faculty and staff are also welcome to incorporate the study of the book into cross-disciplinary curricula and campus events throughout the year.

“This true story of hate, fear, hope, and courage touched and changed many lives and will do so for everyone who reads or watches a performance of this theatrical masterpiece,” according to the Library Journal.

Copies of the book will be available for check-out at the University Library or for purchase at the University Bookstore at a 20 percent discount. For teaching resources and more info on the One Campus, One Book community reading experience, go to:

Cup of Culture: The Laramie Project
Mon., Oct. 7, 3:15 p.m., University-Student Union, Alhambra Room.
The 2013-14 selection, The Laramie Project, is a play by Moisés Kaufman about reactions to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The event includes selected readings from the book, OCOB involvement opportunities, and more.

CSULA Night At… The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later
Sat., Nov. 9, 8 p.m., L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in Hollywood (1125 N. McCadden Pl.)
Tickets go on sale Wed., Oct. 16, for the Nov. 9 production of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. The play explores Laramie, Wyoming, 10 years after the murder of Matthew Shepard, targeted because of his gay identity. Tickets for CSULA community are $12 (regularly $25) for the Nov. 9 production only, and sold at the U-SU Administration Office through Wed., Nov. 6. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to/from the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.

Find out more at these links: