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Dalton Little Theatre Contributed Photo / The cast of "The Laramie Project" includes, in random order, Nick Deslattes, Nikki Sloan, Dillon Walker, Evelyn Wall, Karen Keith, Char Kent-Plunk, Avery Moore, Emily Daily and John Lee. Director Will Schmerge is seated back row, left.

Three performances are left to catch "The Laramie Project" at Dalton Little Theatre, the play based on a hate crime that leads audiences to introspection on prejudice, tolerance, ignorance and compassion. The performances are set for 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 17-19, at the community theater in Dalton, Georgia.

The play is based on an event in October 1998, when a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming was kidnapped, severely beaten and left tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming. His bloody, bruised and battered body was not discovered until the next day, and he died several days later in an area hospital.

His name was Matthew Shepard, and he was the victim of assault because he was gay.

Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over more than a year in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, while others were citizens of Laramie.

If you go

* What: “The Laramie Project”

* Where: Dalton Little Theatre, 210 N. Pentz St., Dalton, Ga.

* When: 7 p.m. Oct. 17-19

* Admission: $15 adults, $12 senior adults, $10 students

* For more information: https://www.daltonlittletheatre.com/

This play recalls events leading up to and after Shepard's death, and how it affected the population of Laramie. The play describes verbatim the thoughts and feelings of approximately 75 members of the community, leaning from very conservative to very liberal.

"Despite the play's reputation, 'The Laramie Project' is not a 'gay play.' It is not a war cry of the LGBTQ community promoting a gay agenda," says Will Schmerge, director.

"It is not a play about Matt (who is never present on the stage) and it takes no moral stance on his lifestyle. It is, instead, about a horrific event that shook an entire culture and the effect that it had on the surrounding community."

The ensemble cast — who play as many as 60 characters in the three acts — includes Nick Deslattes, Nikki Sloan, Dillon Walker, Evelyn Wall, Karen Keith, Char Kent-Plunk, Will Schmerge, Avery Moore and John Lee. Emily Daily is cast as Moises Kaufman and narrator.

Due to the subject matter, this play contains both adult and graphic language, and some mature themes.

To purchase tickets: http://www.daltonlittletheatre.com or at the door.

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