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‘Laramie Project’ Production Features Guest Speaker

Jason Marsden
Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation

Oklahoma City University will host a special guest as part of its production of “The Laramie Project,” which will be staged Feb. 6 through 9.

Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, will be on campus Feb. 7 in the Burg Theatre to discuss the tragic incident that inspired the play. Marsden will speak at 4 p.m., and will participate in a theater talkback after the 8 p.m. play with a group that will include representatives from the Free Mom Hugs organization and adolescent medicine specialist Dr. Amy Middleman, moderated by the dean of the School of Theatre.

“The Laramie Project” tells the story about Shepard, who in 1998 was kidnapped, severely beaten, and left tied to a fence in the middle of a prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming, because he was gay. He died in a hospital several days later.

An organization called the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half, and conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. “The Laramie Project” is a collage of those interviews and the theater company’s own experience in Laramie. It explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which some people are capable.

“The Laramie Project” by OCU’s School of Theatre will be presented in the Burg Theatre in the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center at N.W. 24th Street and Blackwelder Avenue. Show times are 8 p.m. Feb. 6-8, and 2 p.m. Feb. 8 and 9. Tickets are available online at okcu.edu/tickets or by calling 405-208-5227.

More about Jason Marsden

Marsden has served as executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation since 2009. During his seven-year career as a Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune reporter, the murder of Shepard — a personal friend — impelled Marsden to come out publicly in the newspaper’s pages. He also began speaking at journalism conferences and schools around the nation about coverage of hate crimes. In 2001, Marsden became the founding executive director of Wyoming Conservation Voters and the WCV Education Fund, a pair of educational and lobbying organizations for wildlife and environmental conservation. He is a former member of the boards of directors of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming, the Wyoming Wilderness Association and the Wyoming Chapter of the Sierra Club, and currently serves on the boards of the Equality State Policy Center and the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund. He was appointed in 2016 by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to the city’s LGBTQ Commission and serves as co-chair of its Public Safety Committee.