From the Heart: UW-Stout stages play about AIDS epidemic
A drama about the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York will be performed at UW-Stout’s Harvey Hall Theatre this month. The Normal Heart takes place in the early 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began. Gay activist Larry Kramer wrote the play in 1985 after seeing the tragic effects of indifference and lack of response to the disease in New York. “One of the reasons I chose this play is because of its historical significance,” said Paul Calenberg, University Theatre director. “While teaching Gay Theatre, it has become increasingly apparent that students have little or no understanding of the impact the AIDS epidemic had on the gay community. … Gay history is often overlooked in academia, and this play gives an empathetic examination of the devastating impact that indifference by political and social organizations can have on lives. At its core the play is a story of love and loss.” Preceding opening night – Thursday, Nov. 2 – nationally known AIDS/HIV activist Dab Garner will speak from 6 to 7pm at the theater, with a reception from 7 to 7:20pm. The talk, which is free, is co-sponsored by the Qube, part of UW-Stout’s LGBTQIA+ office. According to his website, Garner was one of the first people in the U.S. diagnosed with HIV, then called GRID, in 1982. He was diagnosed several months after the deaths of a partner and a friend. “I speak at over 150 events a year in 10 countries including AIDS walks, rides, conferences, LGBT Prides, health fairs, women’s events, colleges, high school, and pretty much anywhere they will put a microphone in my hand,” he said.
Show times for The Normal Heart, which is for mature audiences, are 7:30pm Thursday, Nov. 2, through Saturday, Nov. 4, as well as Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11. A matinee will be at 1:30pm Saturday, Nov. 11. Tickets are $12. They can be purchased online at tickets.uwstout.edu and at the Service Center at the Memorial Student Center by calling (715) 232-1122.