The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project Act 1: Alison and Marge Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
This moment consists of an interview that Greg Pierotti conducts with local social workers Alison Mears and Marge Murray. Alison describes how Laramie used to be more rural when Marge was growing up. Marge talks about how she could run around “in [her] all togethers” while her kids were at school. Greg asks if she is talking about walking around naked, and Marge asks, “why wear clothes?” Greg asks if Laramie was a ranching town, and Alison says yes, and it was also a railroad town with a maintenance shop for the trains. Marge tells Greg that her mother worked as an engine builder. Alison then tells Greg that Wyoming is a hard place to find a good job, and Marge adds that she’s been working in the service industry, so she knows everyone in town.
Greg Pierotti encounters Marge Murray for the first time during a conversation with her and Alison Mears, and their exchange shows that Greg Pierotti and Marge clearly come from very different backgrounds. As Marge contextualizes Laramie, Greg is surprised when Marge talks about walking around naked, while Marge seems puzzled by his lack of understanding. Marge Murray is one of the playwrights’ recurring subjects, and this first conversation provides a benchmark for how their relationship changes.
Themes
Theater and Representation Theme Icon
Marge Murray describes what she sees as a class divide in Laramie, noting that well-educated people look down on people who are less educated. Marge talks about people making fun of her children because she, their mother, was a bartender. Alison Mears adds, however, that without the university in town, they would be “S.O.L.” Greg Pierotti asks what she means, and Alison explains, laughing, that it stands for “shit out of luck.”
Characters bring up the class and educational rift in Laramie several times throughout the play. As the town confronts its problem with homophobia, this gap exacerbates the problem, since many of the more progressive people in the town are also highly educated and often affiliated with the university.
Themes
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Greg Pierotti then asks what Marge Murray and Alison Mears’ responses were to Matthew Shepard’s murder. Marge explains that she was fairly close to the investigation because her daughter works for the sheriff. She then says that she does not care if people are gay as long as they don’t “bother” her. Marge says that most people in Laramie feel the same, describing how they may punch a gay person at a bar, but that would be all. She says that Laramie is “live and let live.” Alison tells Greg that Marge knows more than she’s letting on about the case, and Marge asks what Greg is going to do with the interview. Greg says he isn’t sure, but that they’ll present it to the people of Laramie at the end. Marge tells Greg that, in that case, she’ll keep some things to herself.
Marge exemplifies the “live and let live” philosophy that many Laramie residents cite as a cornerstone of their society. However, “live and let live” seems insufficient when it comes to truly accepting differences—for example, to Marge, it is okay to punch an LGBT person for hitting on someone who is straight. Marge seems to find these kind of minor incidents of violence acceptable, while still condemning Matthew Shepard’s murder as unacceptable. The question, then, is where does she draw the line when it comes to homophobic violence? Marge also expresses anxiety about whether other Laramie residents will see her interview, suggesting that representing real people in art can be a very complicated task.
Themes
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Theater and Representation Theme Icon