Cuts of images related to Matthew Shepard

Trinity Presents New York’s First Fully Staged Performances of “Considering Matthew Shepard”

NEW YORK, NY, September 7, 2022 – Trinity Church Wall Street’s season opener this fall reflects Ghandi’s famous quote “In the midst of darkness, light persists.” A stunning composition of hope and light that arose from terrible violence, GRAMMY Award-winner Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard makes its fully staged New York premiere at St. Paul’s Chapel on September 15, 16, and 17 at 7:30pm.

Johnson created this epic fusion oratorio as “a space for reflection, consideration, and unity around [Shepard’s] life and legacy.” Matthew Shepard was a University of Wyoming student who was brutally attacked in an anti-gay hate crime on October 6, 1998.  Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and left to die, in what became one of America’s most visible anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. Shepard’s murder 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 and gender identity. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed by President Obama in October 2009.

Johnson worked with the Shepard family and the Matthew Shepard Foundation to create this significant work and was allowed to use personal fragments from Shepard’s diary. The show also incorporates poetry from Leslea Newman’s book October Mourning as well as original texts.

“Jesus taught that the heart of the Good News is love, and our parish is guided by its mission to share God’s love for all people. Queerphobic violence, degradation, and oppression is at odds with this understanding of God and the clear call to celebrate the essential dignity of every human being," said the Rev. Michael Bird, Vicar of Trinity Church Wall Street. "Bringing this powerfully beautiful work to Trinity is a way to name this violence, characterize its impact, and take steps toward change and healing. Trinity is committed to our LGBTQ+ community and programming these types of events as a part of our Pride 365 program, which focuses on LGBTQ+ advocacy throughout the year.”

Highly acclaimed music director Malcolm J. Merriweather and visionary stage directors Elliott Forrest and Rod Caspers join Tony Award-winners Beowulf Boritt (scenic design) and Ken Billington (lighting design) on the creative team, along with producer Melissa Baker, Trinity’s Senior Artistic Administrator, and production supervisor Dustin Z West.

The cast and soloists come from The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, a peerless ensemble which redefines what it means to be a choir musician: a collection of soloists and top-tier vocalists who blend their voices in a stunning, unified choral sound. Featured artists include GRAMMY-nominated tenor Brian Giebler as Matthew Shepard, Nickolas Karageorgiou in the reimagined role of the Narrator, and other renowned Trinity musicians, including Sonya Headlam, Enrico Lagasca, Wilson Nichols, Molly Quinn, and Jonathan Woody.

Prior to the opening performance on Thursday, September 15, Trinity presents a panel discussion, “The Weaponization of Spirituality.” A panel of experts will discuss the connections between spiritual violence and physical violence that targets LGBTQ+ people. This vital discussion with be moderated by Liz Edman, Episcopal priest, political strategist and author of Queer Virtue, and will include Beverly Tillery, executive director of NYC Anti-Violence Project; the Rev. Matthew Welsch, priest and director of Youth and Community Care at Trinity; and Tabytha Gonzalez, associate human rights specialist and transgender liaison at the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

On Friday evening following the performance, the creative team will take the stage for a talkback discussion. Stage directors Elliott Forest and Rod Caspers, music director Malcolm J. Merriweather, and producer Melissa Baker will discuss the vision behind Trinity’s rendition of Considering Matthew Shepard, moderated by activist Cathy Renna, who was on the ground in Laramie immediately following the discovery of Matt’s beating and who has worked with the family ever since. Renna currently serves as communications director of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

September 15-17, 7:30pm at St Paul’s Chapel
Craig Hella Johnson Considering Matthew Shepard
Malcolm J. Merriweather, Music Director
Elliott Forrest and Rod Caspers, Stage Directors
Beowulf Boritt, Scenic Designer
Ken Billington, Lighting Designer
Claudia Stefany, Costume Designer
Elliott Forrest, Projection Designer
Dustin Z West, Production Supervisor
Nate Bertone, Scenic Assistant
Lauren Page Russell, Props Supervisor
Melissa Baker, Producer
Brian Giebler as Matthew Shepard
Nickolas Karageorgiou, Narrator
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; NOVUS NY

September 15, 6pm at St Paul’s Chapel
Panel: The Weaponization of Spirituality

Liz Edman, Moderator, Priest, Political Strategist, and author of Queer Virtue
Beverly Tillery, Executive Director, NYC Anti-Violence Project
The Rev. Matthew Welsch, Priest and Director, Youth and Community Care, Trinity Church Wall Street
Tabytha Gonzalez, Associate Human Rights Specialist and Transgender Liaison, NYC Commission on Human Rights

September 16, 9pm at St Paul’s Chapel
Talkback with the Creative Team

Cathy Renna, Moderator
Malcolm J. Merriweather, Music Director
Elliott Forrest and Rod Caspers, Stage Directors
Melissa Baker, Producer

About Trinity Church Wall Street: 
Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish of more than 1,200 members. For more than three centuries, Trinity has been a part of the fabric of New York City-weaving together a vibrant and diverse parish of people of all backgrounds from the five boroughs and surrounding area. The parish is guided by its core values: faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. These principles are the reason Trinity champions justice and equity through public advocacy, neighborhood outreach, and financial resources. More than 20 worship services are offered every week online and at its historic sanctuaries, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, the cornerstones of the parish’s community life, worship, and mission, and online at