The 15th Anniversary of 'The Laramie Project'

Playwright Moises Kaufman discusses the importance Of The Matthew Shepard Story
4:36 | 10/25/13

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Transcript for The 15th Anniversary of 'The Laramie Project'
On October 6 1998. Matthew Sheppard -- student at the University of Wyoming was brutally beaten. Six days later Mathieu passed away as a result of his injuries and the story. -- global attention to hate crimes and sparked more says Kaufman a playwright and director to right. The Laramie project and he is joining us now today to talk about it has been fifteen years. Since that day -- walk we through the process of how you even began writing this. I think when Matthew Shepard was beaten I was obviously sought by the brutality of the crime. He was Stipe to defends. -- with the butt of a gun and then left there. For 24 hours before somebody -- That he spent six days in a hospital in that he passed away. So that was of a brutality to lead this image of these young boy -- to a fans in the middle of low Wyoming prairie. But I think the thing that -- Struck me the most in the days that followed was how much attention was getting. You could open the newspaper without seeing -- to -- -- of the Internet or television radio. And you don't -- that time there were over a thousand anti gay crimes committed in America. Every year and for some reason this wondrous made it this -- was the one where America as a nation took notice. And wouldn't -- me was why what was about this one crime that so clearly became a watershed historical moment. So at that time. What we have a theater company New York of the department theater -- -- connector to the company members of the company and I said. Let's go to Laramie. And let's talk to the people of the town and perhaps we can get. A document that records -- -- Laramie was thinking and feeling at the end of the millennium but how America was thinking and feeling at the end of the millennium. Sold ten of us went to Laramie. And we spent a year back and forth going to Laramie and interviewed. I think don't 200 people. And then from that we wrote the -- the laboratory. And the fact the matter is that it has been fifteen years since that day and how is the Laramie project. Changed in the way that -- received by audiences. Well I think that that the reason as you said well let me project is still one of the most -- -- in the country. Is because it was a snapshot of our culture -- very specific moment in time. On the Laramie project captures. -- war that is going on in America. A war about social justice a war about civil rights. So anybody who comes and sees the Laramie project they will find their point of view represented on stage. We did not only interview people we agreed with we've -- -- people who disagreed with -- we interviewed people who. Believe that they hate crime legislation should be pursued we -- we interview people who thought there should be don't hate crime legislation. We interviewed people who said oh my Matthew -- doing what he was doing he deserve what happened to it we talked to people who were mourning for Matthews. Murder so I think that what has happened over the last fifteen years is that we as a nation have continued to have the conversation. Any no way there has been great progress made. Right the fact that you created something that has been such an influential force. Is it a humbling. Reaction that you have some -- to the way that it has changed. The country and maybe even -- Nash. Dialogue. I am very honored and I think that that the members of the company and I who pulled wrote it together. Are very very honored and very. Three -- body be affected Jesus had I wish we lived in a culture where -- -- because it was no longer necessary I don't think we're there yet. I think that there is something about. This conversation that really goes very deep. In our culture. That's a long time to address. Then the message is strong it is very poignant and it it certainly continues to resonate with with so many people across some inspections and generations. By thank you so much for stopping by some remorse Kauffman thank you very much thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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