Laramie Project Ten Years Later
While The Laramie Project is presented in theaters and schools nationwide for its artistic and academic value, the play often attracts controversy that takes on a life of its own. An article in USA Today—published on March 16, 2009, and available online at www.usatoday.com/news/ education/2009-03-16-teacherlaramie_N.htm —reported: [In January 2009]
Debra Taylor showed students at Grandfield High School [in Grandfield, Oklahoma] The Laramie Project, a 2002 film based on the play of the same name, about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The students soon decided to film selected scenes themselves for an in-class project. Taylor, 50, knew the project was controversial with strong language, but got her principal’s permission. A few weeks into it, the principal told her to stop production. After students protested, she held a 20-minute ceremony in a nearby park in which students wrote their thoughts and rolled them into helium balloons, then released them. The next day, Taylor says, Superintendent Ed Turlington canceled the class. After she complained to a school board member, Turlington put her on paid leave and recommended that she be fired. The school board approved her resignation.
As you watch the Epilogue, note how and why the interpretation of events surrounding Matthew Shepard’s death has changed. What factual evidence is presented in the Epilogue regarding Shepard’s killing?
Your Task: Write a 5-page essay (MLA format and citation) where you analyze the community’s condition regarding the murder of Matthew Shepard and gay rights in Laramie. Use a few characters (their actions, dialogue, or attitudes) to support your claim that Laramie has progressed or regressed ten years after Shepard’s murder.
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