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Non-profit group hosts anti-bullying production in Idaho Falls

October is bullying prevention month, as well as the anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard; the young man that was beaten and killed in Laramie Wyoming in 1998 for being openly gay.

This weekend, Breaking Boundaries is presenting a production of The Laramie Project: The Matthew Shepard Story in commemoration.

“He was beaten horribly and it was a horrific act of bullying,” said Mary Kaufman, project director.

In October 1998 Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, was tortured and killed. Shepard was openly gay.

The Laramie Project is a play that compiles more than 200 hundred interviews with the Laramie community. It’s designed to show the town’s reaction to the crime.

“From the doctors that treated him, his father, university students and professors and even the officers involved,” said Kaufman.

10 local actors play out the hundreds of interviews. High school senior, Cassandra Lee, said it’s challenging to portray the emotions on all sides of Matthew’s story.

“People are really still today not being accepted by being diverse or different from everyone else,” said Lee. “That’s a very important thing to realize is that it’s okay to be different and it’s not something you need to be afraid of.”

The Laramie Project first premiered in Denver in 2000 and has since been performed by theater companies across the country.

“Even the smallest act of bullying can grow into something way out of our control,” said Kaufman.

The final performance will be Saturday Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls.

Admission is free.

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