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Duke Ellington School Presents ‘The Laramie Project’

The Laramie Project is a play performed in high schools across the country highlighting the murder of Matthew Shepherd and its impact on the sleepy town of Laramie, Wyo., population 26,687 where Shepherd lived.

As the town’s police sergeant says, “It’s a good place to live. Good people—lots of space.” Laramie residents take pride in being called the “gem city of the plains,” and appear to believe in the motto “Live and Let Live.”

But what happens when something unexpected, unconscionable and unforgivable rips it apart? What happens to its people when they are thrust into the unrelenting glare of a national media spotlight? And what happens to a community when trust among its own people has been shattered?

The Theatre Department at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts examines these powerful questions with their production of The Laramie Project. Moises Kaufman’s award-winning case study is the story of Matthew Shepherd, a gay University of Wyoming student murdered in Laramie in 1998 in an apparent hate crime. Theatre Department Chair Kenneth Johnson directs the production.

Founded in 1974, Duke Ellington School of the Arts is the only college preparatory public arts high school serving the nation’s capital. It is also the only public school independently managed through a unique public-private partnership with George Washington University, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the D.C. Public Schools, and the Ellington Fund. Ellington offers pre-professional training in dance, theater, instrumental and vocal music, museum studies, literary and visual media, as well as a full academic curriculum. For more information about Duke Ellington School of the Arts visit www.ellingtonschool.org.