UConn students star in The Laramie Project - WFSB 3 Connecticut

UConn students star in The Laramie Project

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STORRS, CT (WFSB) -

With the help of an HBO star, performers at University of Connecticut hope their production will change hearts and minds.

The Laramie Project wraps-up this weekend and is based on a dark day. But through their performance, the performers said they're turning tragedy into triumph.

UConn students, who were kids 17-years ago, are now re-living a day that started a movement. In October 1998, gay college student Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming.

All these years later, The Laramie Project stage production looks back at how the community and the nation responded.

"The 24-hour news cycle covered it relentlessly and so this production is very media heavy,” said Vincent Cardinal with the Connecticut Repertory Theater. “We have lots of projections, video monitors and live to tape on stage."

Student actors at the Connecticut Repertory Theater produce nine shows a year. The Laramie Project is the latest and wraps-up Sunday.

"It's 11 actors each playing five to seven roles, so you get to see actors in the blink of an eye switching from one person to another,” Cardinal said.

"I feel so privileged to come back to a university setting as a professional actor,” actress Brandy Burre said.

Burre appeared in HBO’s The Wire along with other projects. She has joined the cast of The Laramie Project

"What's amazing about it. Is it's real events and real interviews from people, so you get a spectrum,” Burre said. “A lot of times when you're dealing with an issue like this, it's black and white."

"There are still people, who hate, but as we grow as a nation it seems like we're starting to learn that difference is something we embrace,” Cardinal said.

The audience can embrace the message of this production that's not as serious as you think.

"We try to find all of the humor in it because we know as artists,” Burre said. “When anyone laughs, that opens up their heart."

There will be a performance on Saturday at 2 p.m. followed by a talk back with the audience.

For ticket information, click here.

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