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Letter: A stunning local performance

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If you build it, they will come. This is a line from a movie about baseball, but it can mean so much more. In this instance, it pertains to the stunning performances of late in downtown Willmar.

Who thought that producing a play that dealt with the aftermath of a hate crime, the vicious murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998, would garner such a heartfelt acceptance in rural west central Minnesota? Who thought that the production would be blessed with accepting audiences and packed houses every night? Who thought that the play would survive beyond its initial meager run?

The answer to those questions is simple: nobody. Certainly not those of us who have spent the last three months pouring our hearts and souls into this production, certainly not us.

It took some guts to get this production off the ground. This isn’t the type of play our audiences are used to. How do we know? Because they were asked and they told us so. It took some genius creative work by the extraordinary Nikki Bettcher Erickson to get this production up and running. With a special grant and some ingenious collaborative work, she made this happen. Kudos to Nikki!

The life and death of Matthew Shepard changed the way we talk about and deal with hate in the United States. Since 1998, the legacy of this remarkable young man’s life has challenged and inspired millions of individuals to erase hate in all forms. Although his life was short, it continues to have a great impact on both young and old alike

This tragedy helped the nation wake up to the fact that hate and discrimination still lives in our communities, our schools and our families. Although his life was cut short, the impact of his spirit is great.

If you build it, they will come. Many thanks to the people of Willmar and the surrounding communities for coming to see “The Laramie Project.” Due to the overwhelming popular demand and acclaim, an additional performance has been added at 7:30 p.m. July 10. Please come.

Heather McCarthy

Lake Lillian

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