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Pachuca Productions brings ‘The Laramie Project’ to Plumas County

Patrick Parks plays limo driver Doc O’Connor as well as both murderers Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson in Pachuca Production’s “The Laramie Project” this November. Photo by Meg Upton

Twenty-one years ago, in the rural western town of Laramie, Wyoming, Matthew Shepard, a young gay college student a few weeks shy of his 22nd birthday was beaten and left tied to a buck fence to die.

His attackers robbed him, were apprehended and confessed to the hate crime within 48 hours. The small town assumed the brutality was due to outsiders coming in and committing the crime and were heartbroken to learn that the murderers were two young men that were born and raised by them. National media descended on Laramie in the months following the murder. Neighbors made up the jury that was willing to sentence the young men to death. And all the while this quiet, western town that prided itself on its live and let live attitude had to come to terms with itself and how the violence of words, bigotry and intolerance can take the life of a fellow citizen.

The Tectonic Theatre project of New York went to Laramie six months after the murder and conducted over 200 interviews with residents with all different perspectives on the murder, their town, and all the unwanted attention they received. The result is the play “The Laramie Project,” which seeks to explore what it is to live in western rural America — both the good and the bad — and whether its gay sons and daughters can have a place in the towns they grew up in.

Pachuca Productions brings the play to Plumas County, from Nov. 14 through 17, with two shows at the West End Theatre in Quincy and two shows at the Greenville Town Hall.

This is their first show to have cast and crew members from all corners of Plumas County, including high school students. Chester High School’s Catherine McHugh, Quincy High School’s Colette Tilford and Indian Valley Academy’s Diego Garcia all have substantial roles in the play. IVA and GHS students are also on crew, with QHS’ Paloma Couoh stage-managing.

“We love that we were able to get such a great cast with such a variation of ages and areas of the county,” said assistant director and producer Tina Terrazas.

“We love being able to provide theater opportunities for high school students in Plumas County,” Terrazas continued.

Other cast members include Kim Carroll, Lance Barker, Patrick Parks, Jane Strohmeier, Jane Braxton Little, Martha Truax, Johnny Walker, Margaret Elysia Garcia, Risa Nesbit, Michelle Fulton and Hilary Sawyer. Each cast member takes on the persona of three to eight people in Laramie or the media that descended on them — from the emergency room doctors and the police to the friends and family of Matthew Shepard, to the murderers themselves and their families.

“It’s exciting to be able to bring important and powerful theatre to Plumas County — roles you can really sink your teeth into,” said Terrazas.

The show plays Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m., at the Greenville Town Hall. Tickets for those performances will be on sale at Quincy Natural Foods and Sterling Sage in Greenville beginning Nov. 1.

The show plays the West End Theatre in Quincy on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16, at 7 p.m. Tickets for these performances are available at West End Theatre, Carey Candy Co. or online at www.westendtheatre.us/box-office also beginning Nov. 1. Student tickets are $5 and adult tickets are $15.

The production is supported by sponsorship from Plumas Arts with additional support from dramaworks, Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce, and support from Bread for the Journey, DeMartile automotive and others.

For more information, email [email protected].

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