The conflicts that play out in Laramie, Wyoming, after Moisés Kaufman’s Tectonic Theater Project arrives in town include human beings versus other humans, individuals versus society, and individuals against themselves (or internal conflict). Because the action begins after Matthew Shepard’s death, the audience hears about the killers’ actions from numerous different characters. Because the killers were the only witnesses to each other’s crimes and are in a weak position, one man, Russell Henderson, pleads guilty and testifies against the other, Aaron McKinney, at his trial. The prosecution of both men shows society against these individuals, and the trial shows one particular case of this opposition, in the effort to achieve justice for Matthew. The jury foreperson states, "We find the defendant . . . guilty" of the charges of kidnapping, robbery, and felony murder.
Some of Laramie’s residents seem to blame the victim, however, and speak as though sexual identity were a reason for being murdered. In trying to arrange an interview, Amanda speaks on the phone to a pastor's wife, who tells her that her husband "has very biblical views." The theater company members must try to maintain neutral tones in speaking with people who espouse such beliefs. Troupe members experience internal conflicts in carrying out their assigned roles in researching the theater work.
In addition, the outsiders who descend on Laramie both exacerbate existing conflicts and create new ones, although they inadvertently provide the impetus for building consensus and healing as well. The Westboro Baptist Church representatives show human versus human conflict when they bring their anti-gay message to the streets outside Matthew’s funeral, only to be met by the townspeople wearing giant “angel” wings that block their signs and spread a message of peace and understanding.