AIDS. Many of us are familiar with this term and probably know about the AIDS crisis that began in the 1980s--but do we really know?
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the AIDS crisis, Steven Trovillion Smith, professor and director of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Theater and Dance program, is bringing "The Normal Heart" to the UWSP Noel Fine Arts Center Studio Theatre on Feb. 10-12 and 15-18.
The 12-student cast will show the audience the progression of AIDS through the emotional story of a tight-knit group of friends that refuse to let doctors, politicians and the press hide the truth behind AIDS. Following a gay activist over the course of four years, death tolls rise and the audience will watch the wall of silence fall down as he tells the world about the unspoken epidemic of AIDS. The original show opened on Broadway in New York City in 1985--just after the real life events took place.
"This play is edgy, exciting, and in-the-moment with a touching love scene. You won’t be seeing it anywhere else around here. It’s not a play that will be shown in your high school or at your community theater. I’m excited to see how people will be moved by it," Trovillion Smith said.
"The Normal Heart" is not for young audiences as the content is controversial with harsh language and a mature subject matter.
Junior Erik Schneider, playing Tommy Boatwright, is also looking forward to getting the message out to the audiences as he performs the play.
"People need to understand that the discrimination towards the gay community that this play presents is something that has not stopped and is something that needs to. As the only homosexual member of the cast, this message is especially important for me to portray," Schneider said.
The play is about the beginning of the AIDS crisis in New York City and the beginning of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in response to the epidemic, but Schneider says "The Normal Heart" is mostly about opening a window into the lives of people who are forced to fight for their lives.
Lauren Kacere, a senior acting major, is the dramaturg of the play. As she provides information regarding the time period of the show, she makes sure everything is historically accurate, from the places, people and events that are mentioned in the play.
"This show is not subtle; it is very in-your-face. It will make the audience think about the topics addressed in the show such as homophobia and AIDS. Theatre is a great way to enlighten people on various issues and this show does just that," Kacere said.
Tickets for "The Normal Heart" can be bought at The University Information and Ticket Office--$17 for adults, $12 for students (or free on day of the show with valid student I.D., if available seats).