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Westboro Baptist Church says it will protest L.A. stage production of 'The Laramie Project'

December 7, 2010 |  1:12 pm

Shepard The Westboro Baptist Church is once again threatening to protest "The Laramie Project." This time, the production of the play on the church's radar is in Los Angeles.

Headed by Fred Phelps, the fundamentalist group is planning to picket "The Laramie Project," currently being produced at the Pico Playhouse by the Mechanicals Theatre Group. The protest is set for Sunday evening, according to a post on a website run by the church.

The Westboro Baptist Church has a history of staging protests at funerals and issuing anti-gay statements. The church also has protested or threatened to protest "The Laramie Project" at productions around the country.

"The Laramie Project" is a drama written by Mois├ęs Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project that addresses the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. The play draws on interviews with citizens of Laramie, Wyo., the town where Shepard was beaten to death in an act of anti-gay violence. The play has been widely produced around the country since debuting nearly 10 years ago.

Phelps is one the characters portrayed in the play.

The current production of "The Laramie Project" at the Pico Playhouse is benefiting the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on suicide and crisis prevention for gay youth. The limited-run engagement opened Dec. 2 and is set to close Sunday, which is the same day as the Westboro Baptist Church's scheduled protest.

The Westboro Baptist Church garnered national media attention when it picketed the funeral of Shepard. The church has since staged protests at a number of military funerals as well as the funerals of celebrities and prominent religious leaders.

Phelps' anti-gay rhetoric has provoked condemnation from numerous political and religious figures. The church also has been the subject of a number of lawsuits.

In a statement sent out Tuesday, the Mechanicals Theatre Group said its production of "The Laramie Project" coincides with what would have been Shepard's 34th birthday. 

Peter Wittrock, the director of "The Laramie Project" and a member of the Mechanicals Theatre Group, said in a phone interview Tuesday that Phelps' organization has a "constitutional right to [protest] ... but I don't think it will stop anyone from going into the play."

-- David Ng

Photo: Matthew Shepard. Credit: Associated Press


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Comments () | Archives (7)

Just got finished watching the documentary 'Fall From Grace' about the Westboro Church.

That 'church' and they're message is older and more out of touch than Fred Phelps himself!

The message should be of love and not hate.

This is great news for the play! More people will find out about this production and attend because of these loons.

I have followed this for a number of years - they often threaten to protest, but do not come. They may not even arrive, and even if they do - volunteers can always don angel wings outside the theatre!

If you need a spotter, let me know. If you want me to walk point, I will. YOU are a HERO and I support you. I hope that you know that most Americans would support you as well, though most are too damned scared to speak publicly about anything other than the NFL. (more on the controlling capability of fear later) I'm with you on this mission.

If they're protesting THIS show (AGAIN!?!?), why don't they protest EVERY 'gay' show?!?! This is ridiculous.

"Caught", now at the Zephyr Theatre (http://www.caughttheplay.com/) is working toward equality on EVERY level and no anti-gay/anti-america church ANYWHERE is gonna stop the message of this show getting out. I dare them to send protesters.


I produced LARAMIE 10 YEARS LATER at Hollywood United Methodist last year and they claimed they were going to protest us as well. We had an amazing cast: Zachary Quinto, Pauley Perrette, Julie Benz, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Lisa Edelstein, James Cromwell...

They never showed. Later, Megan Phelps said, "oh, I meant we'd be there because we're always there as characters in the play."


The westboro babtist is not a "church", it is a hate group. They are in it for the money and the press. Most of this "church" are attorneys. If IBM showed up at your door, would they get away with this? No! Any one can say they are a "church", that is not going to make you a Church! We in this country let a lot pass for "church". This is not about freedom, it is about being human. They are a danger to our freedom. A country can only be pushed so far.


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