KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, in collaboration with Conspirare, is bringing “Considering Matthew Shepard” to television. KLRU has assembled an award-winning team to help adapt the three-part oratorio into a unique theatrical experience for the small screen. Considering Matthew Shepard will be distributed nationally to PBS stations in the Fall of 2018 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s death. IMP is creating standards-aligned curricula for the program, and offering micro-grants to community organizations in select markets to support local screenings and other events.
“Considering Matthew Shepard” is a Grammy-nominated three-part oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson. The work is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard. On October 6, 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and left to die, in what became an infamous act of brutality, and one of America’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes. Shepard’s murder ultimately led to the creation of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and provided a catalyst for legislation that expanded the definition of a hate crime to include sexual orientation. In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Composer Craig Hella Johnson had a profoundly personal reaction to both the murder and its resonance. The Shepard family and Foundation engaged with Johnson in the creation of the work, and allowed the use of fragments from Shepard’s personal diary.
The special will be accompanied by outreach and engagement programs, providing opportunities — facilitated by public television stations — for communities to participate in a national conversation about acceptance, compassion and bullying.