Matthew Shepard was an openly-gay university student in Laramie, Wyoming who was murdered in 1998. The Laramie Project is constructed from interviews with real Laramie residents reacting to his murder over the course of a… read analysis of Matthew Shepard
Aaron McKinney, a Laramie resident, is one of Matthew Shepard’s murderers. Aaron, who admits he killed Matthew with Russell Henderson because Matthew allegedly tried to hit on him, clearly harbors intense feelings of homophobia… read analysis of Aaron McKinney
Russell Henderson is a nineteen-year-old Laramie Resident and one of Matthew Shepard’s murderers. Russell pleads guilty to participating in Matthew’s murder, driving the truck in which Aaron McKinney beat Matthew and then tying him… read analysis of Russell Henderson
Dennis Shepard is Matthew Shepard’s father. During Aaron McKinney’s sentencing, Dennis makes a statement explaining the family’s decision not to ask for the death penalty for Aaron, in which Dennis describes how he… read analysis of Dennis Shepard
Rebecca Hilliker is the head of the theater department at the University of Wyoming and one of the theater company’s first contacts in Laramie. Rebecca introduces the interviewers to contacts in the town, including Jedadiah… read analysis of Rebecca Hilliker
The Baptist Minister
The Baptist Minister is one of the most conservative ministers in Laramie and the head of a large congregation at the local Baptist church. The Baptist Minister considers himself a “Biblicist,” meaning that he believes… read analysis of The Baptist Minister
Father Roger Schmit
Father Roger Schmit is the Catholic priest in Laramie at the time of Matthew Shepard’s murder. Unitarian minister Stephen Mead Johnson considers Father Roger to be the next left-most minister in town after himself… read analysis of Father Roger Schmit
Stephen Mead Johnson
Stephen Mead Johnson is the Unitarian Minister in Laramie. He considers himself to be the furthest left minister in the town and advocates for the acceptance of all gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Stephen went… read analysis of Stephen Mead Johnson
Reggie Fluty is the policewoman who first responded to the scene where Matthew Shepard was found. She is also Marge Murray’s daughter. While she was trying to stabilize Matthew and put him in the… read analysis of Reggie Fluty
Aaron Kreifels is a university student and Laramie resident. During a somewhat aimless bike ride, Aaron found Matthew Shepard tied to the fence where Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson had left him to die. Aaron… read analysis of Aaron Kreifels
Catherine is a Laramie resident and a faculty member at the University of Wyoming. According to Catherine, she was the first openly lesbian faculty member at the college. Catherine attended Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson… read analysis of Catherine Connolly
Doc O’Connor is a limousine driver in Laramie who was a friend of Matthew Shepard’s. According to Doc, Matthew used to hire him for rides to gay bars in a town an hour away… read analysis of Doc O’Connor
Dr. Cantway is an emergency room doctor in Laramie who treats both Matthew Shepard and Aaron McKinney in the same day. Dr. Cantway recalls that Matthew’s injuries were the kind normally seen in severe car… read analysis of Dr. Cantway
Jonas Slonaker is a Laramie resident and an openly gay man. Jonas is horrified by Matthew Shepard’s murder and he believes that it reveals deep-seated bigotry in Laramie. Jonas feels that the Wyoming axiom… read analysis of Jonas Slonaker
Zubaida is a Muslim university student living in Laramie. Zubaida considers herself an Islamic feminist. She expresses her frustration at the questions people in Laramie asked her after she chose to start wearing a veil… read analysis of Zubaida Ula
Moisés Kaufman is the writer of The Laramie Project, the founder of the Tectonic Theater Company, and also a character in the play. As a character, Moisés often introduces logistical updates, noting how long… read analysis of Moisés Kaufman
Leigh Fondakowski is the head writer of The Laramie Project and a member of the Tectonic Theater Project. Leigh actively participates in the trips to Laramie and conducts interviews (including with Father Roger Schmit… read analysis of Leigh Fondakowski
Greg Pierotti is a member of the Tectonic Theater Company and one of the interviewers for the Laramie Project. Greg interviews many people featured in the play, including Sergeant Hing, Alison Mears, and… read analysis of Greg Pierotti
Marge Murray is the mother of Reggie Fluty, a good friend of Alison Mears, a former bartender, and a lifelong Laramie resident. Marge offers the interviewers context on the culture of Laramie and… read analysis of Marge Murray
Matt Galloway was the bartender at the Fireside Bar on the night that Matthew Shepard was murdered. Matt Galloway admired Matthew, calling him the perfect bar customer. He testifies in Matthew’s court case as a… read analysis of Matt Galloway
Matt Mickelson is the owner of the Fireside Bar where Matthew Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson the night of his murder. Matthew’s family history in Laramie goes back generations. He helps connect the… read analysis of Matt Mickelson
Murdock Cooper is a local rancher who tries to feel more comfortable about Matthew Shepard’s murder by dwelling on the possibility that, if Matthew hit on Aaron McKinney, it may have been partially… read analysis of Murdock Cooper
Reverend Fred Phelps
Reverend Fred Phelps is the minister of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, which preaches a doctrine that glorifies judgment and hatred. Reverend Fred Phelps and his followers protest Matthew Shepard’s funeral and the trials… read analysis of Reverend Fred Phelps
Romaine Patterson is a university student, a close friend of Matthew Shepard’s, and an openly lesbian woman. Romaine tells her interviewers about her friendship with Matthew and how she was extremely upset about Matthew’s… read analysis of Romaine Patterson
Rulon Stacey is a Mormon man, the CEO of the Poudre Valley Hospital (where Matthew Shepard was treated), and the spokesperson for Matthew’s family. Throughout Matthew’s tenure at the hospital, Rulon communicates with the media… read analysis of Rulon Stacey
Shannon is a friend and former classmate of Aaron McKinney’s. Stephen Belber runs into Shannon at the Fireside Bar with his friend Jen and interviews the two of them. Shannon indicates that both he… read analysis of Shannon
Tiffany Edwards is a local Laramie reporter. Tiffany comments on the presence of the national media in Laramie and express ambivalence towards it. She believes that the national media is invasive and prevents the community… read analysis of Tiffany Edwards
Rob Debree is a detective at the local county's sheriff's department and the chief investigator on Matthew Shepard's murder case. It is Rob who solicits Aaron McKinney's confession, building an airtight case that… read analysis of Rob Debree
Alison Mears is a longtime Laramie resident and a friend of Marge Murray. Alison works for the local social service agency.
Amanda Gronich is a member of Tectonic Theater Project. She interviews the Baptist Minister about his views on Matthew’s murder after attending his church service one Sunday.
Andrew Gomez is a young man who spends time in jail with Aaron McKinney. Andrew tells the interviewers about Aaron’s reputation in jail and his conversations with Aaron about why he killed Matthew Shepard.
Andy Paris is a member of Tectonic Theater Project and one of the interviewers for The Laramie Project. He speaks the final lines of the play as the theater company leaves Laramie for the last time.
Anonymous Friend of Aaron McKinney
This friend of Aaron McKinney, who chose to be interviewed anonymously, expresses shock at Aaron’s crimes and tells the interviewers a little about Aaron’s personal and family life.
April Silva is a bisexual university student in Laramie. April, who grew up in Cody, Wyoming, prefers Laramie to her old town.
The Bailiff is one of the staff members of the court who announces the beginning of Russell and Aaron’s trials.
Barbara Pitts is a member of the Tectonic Theater Project. She goes with Stephen Belber to interview Matt Mickelson and Matt Galloway at the Fireside Bar.
Bill McKinney is Aaron McKinney’s father. Bill feels that, because of the media attention the case received, Aaron is not receiving a fair trial.
Cal Rerucha is the prosecuting attorney on Aaron McKinney’s case. Cal intended to pursue the death penalty, but deferred to the Shepard family’s wishes.
Conrad Miller is a car mechanic and a local Laramie resident. Conrad Miller believes that homosexuality is animalistic and wrong.
Doug Laws is the Mormon minister in Laramie. Doug Laws says that Mormons believe that God is still speaking to everyday people, and he also indicates that, in the Mormon Church, homosexuality is not accepted.
Gil and Eileen Engen
Gil and Eileen Engen are a ranching couple in Laramie. Gil and Eileen both believe that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson are “bad apples” and do not see Matthew Shepard’s murder as connected to a culture of homophobia in Laramie.
Governor Jim Geringer
Governor Jim Geringer is Wyoming’s Republican governor at the time of Matthew Shepard’s murder. Jim expresses his outrage at Matthew’s murder, but warns against using it to give gay people “special rights over others.”
Harry Woods is a gay Laramie resident. In the play, Harry describes his reaction to the Homecoming Parade and the people walking in support of Matthew Shepard, expressing how he felt incredibly moved and thankful for the demonstrators and for Matthew.
Jeffrey Lockwood is a middle-aged Laramie resident. The interviewers ask him about his reaction to the murder.
Jen is Aaron McKinney’s friend from childhood. Stephen Belber runs into Jen at the Fireside Bar one night with Shannon. Jen talks with Stephen about her feelings about Aaron and the murder.
Jon Peacock is Matthew Shepard’s academic advisor and a political science professor at the University of Wyoming. Jon thought highly of Matthew’s academic potential was shocked and horrified to learn of Matthew’s murder. Jon Peacock helps to contextualize Matthew’s life before his murder.
Judy Shepard is Matthew Shepard’s mother. While Judy is not actually played by any actor in The Laramie Project, several characters refer to her throughout the play.
Kerry Drake is a reporter for the Caspar Star Tribune. In the play, Kerry recalls Fred Phelps protesting Matthew’s funeral.
Kristin is Aaron McKinney’s girlfriend. Kristin is charged as an accessory to Matthew Shepard’s murder.
Lucy Thompson is Russell Henderson’s grandmother. At Russell’s trial, Lucy offers her sympathy to the Shepard family and begs the court to give Russell his two life sentences concurrently rather than consecutively.
Phil Labrie was a friend of Matthew Shepard’s who helps to provide the theater company with context about what Matthew was like. He takes Greg Pierotti and a few other interviewers out to see the fence where Matthew was found.
Philip Dubois is the president of the University of Wyoming. After Matthew Shepard’s murder, he received an email accusing him and the rest of Laramie of being complicit in Matthew’s murder.
Russell Henderson’s Mormon Home Teacher
Russell Henderson’s Mormon Home Teacher is a friend of the Henderson family who has known Russell Henderson since he was a child. The teacher laments Russell’s crime and punishment and describes how, after Russell was convicted, the Mormon Church excommunicated him.
Shadow was the DJ working at Fireside Bar the night Matthew Shepard was killed, and he is the last person besides Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson who talked to Matthew before his death.
Sherry Aanenson was Russell Henderson’s landlord. Sherry was surprised and upset by the news of Russell’s crime, because in her experience Russell was always very “sweet.”
Sherry Johnson is a Laramie resident and the wife of a police officer. Sherry expresses sympathy for Matthew Shepard, but objects to the classification of the murder as a hate crime, since she feels it gives gay people special privileges.
Stephen Belber is a member of the Tectonic Theater Project and one of the interviewers for The Laramie Project. Stephen’s interviewees include the workers at the Fireside Bar and the limousine driver Doc O’Connor.
Sergeant Hing is a detective in the Laramie Police Department. Sergeant Hing is proud of his Laramie roots and feels that the national media misjudged Laramie, but is also shocked that a murder like Matthew Shepard’s could occur in a state that he sees as “Live and Let Live.”
Trish Steger is the owner of a local shop in Laramie and is Romaine Patterson’s sister. Trish knew Matthew Shepard personally, and she broke the news to Romaine about Matthew’s attack.
Zackie Salmon is an administrator at the University of Wyoming and a lesbian woman originally from Texas. Zackie loves that Laramie is such a close-knit community, but feels unsafe in town after Matthew Shepard’s murder. Zackie supports the death penalty for Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for their crimes.