Almost 10 years ago Matthew Shepard was beaten by two boys, tied to a scarecrow and left to die.

The Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS) will help relive and expose this gay hate crime by bringing the critically-acclaimed play based on the real-life horror story, The Laramie Project, to Sydney next month.

Director Chris Hay said the play was an examination of a small town in America as it struggles with its attitude toward gay men in the wake of a violent homophobic attack.

It becomes broader than that to ultimately transcend the circumstances of its crime and the sexuality of the victim, to become a potent meditation on the effects of casual prejudice, and the way in which young people are conditioned to think in the twenty-first century, he said.

It’s an emotional story, especially in the way some audiences are likely to connect with it, and I think it tells an extraordinary tale of very human reactions in extraordinary circumstances.

The production will coincide with the university’s Pride Week and will be launched on Monday 7 April at the university’s Anti-Violence Day.

There will also be a special charity performance on Saturday 19 April, with proceeds donated to ACON.

In the last couple of years The Laramie Project has become one of the world’s most recognised plays. The use of minimalist staging helps heighten the struggle the gay community has at times in society.

Although SUDS took on the script in 2004, the group hopes that a significant change of attitude has taken place since and that this version will reflect the difference in the changing attitudes of society.

If we can’t say that in the wake of incidents like the attack on Craig Gee, we hope to once again highlight the issues the play raises in a year. Hay said.

I think the play has a huge number of things to say, but in the end I think it is a play that has a lot of anger about the way gay people, and more generally anyone that doesn’t fit a standard model, are treated.

The play doesn’t want to let us get away with this kind of offhand prejudice, the casual assumptions that everyone makes on a daily basis because it’s the way they’ve been taught to think, or it’s the easiest thing to get away with – it’s no longer good enough.

Info: The Laramie Project will play at the Seymour Centre from Wednesday 9 April till Saturday 19 April. Tickets are $10 + bf. Bookings on 9351 7940.

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