After being forced to pause its mainstage production of The Laramie Project due to the government shutdown, Ford’s Theatre announced two free performances of the show yesterday evening. First Congregational United Church of Christ, the theater’s downtown neighbor, will host shows on Friday, Oct. 4 and Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. The theater’s production of The Laramie Project coincides with the 15th anniversary of Matthew Shepard‘s murder this weekend, Ford’s Theatre Society president Paul R. Tetreault wrote in a press release last night. “That milestone will arrive regardless of what happens in Congress. We felt it was vital to find a way to continue telling this story now.”

Audiences can pick up tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 6:30 p.m. on the day of the show. The house will open at 7 p.m. Ford’s Theatre staff will be in touch with patrons who have already purchased tickets to Laramie Project performances as the shutdown progresses and more decisions are made.

An Oct. 7 panel discussion about hate crimes featuring Dave O’Malley, the lead investigator of the Shepard murder, and Billy Rowles, sheriff of Jasper County, Texas during the murder of James Byrd, Jr., presented as part of the theater’s Lincoln Legacy Project, will continue at the Center for Education and Leadership. The Center, funded entirely by the private Ford’s Theatre Society, will remain open for the duration of the shutdown.

Photo by Carol Rosegg